‘Tis the season for fireworks. Columbus had its big Red White & Boom celebration last night. The weather was perfect and big crowds turned out to ooh and aah at the sounds, colors, and combinations.
For many smaller communities, however, Fourth of July fireworks celebrations are being reduced or eliminated due to budget pressures. In Gahanna, which is one of the communities adjacent to New Albany, officials have said that this year’s Freedom Festival fireworks show would have been canceled if the city hadn’t already put down a $10,000 deposit. The city is facing enormous budget deficits if it doesn’t scale back its services; it has already cut its capital improvements budget to zero. The city’s investment in the Creekside project — which is an attractive, but apparently underutilized, development along one of the city’s main streets — hasn’t produced the revenue that was anticipated. Taxes could be raised, of course, but city officials are sensing that residents are experiencing “tax fatigue” and therefore may not support additional levies. So if the city won’t be patching potholes or filling vacancies, how can it justify using scarce funds for fireworks displays?
It’s sad when communities can’t support traditional Independence Day activities, but in this recessionary period civic leaders have to be realistic. Fourth of July celebrations aren’t essential city services and in central Ohio there are lots of other options for fans of fireworks. Gahanna’s decision is unfortunate, but not difficult.