Budget constraints in a tight budget year means the annual Fourth of July fireworks show at Wilton High School will have to be a lower-budget affair.
Lower by about $12,000, from its usual $35,000 cost, according to Steve Pierce, director of Parks and Recreation.
That probably means getting rid of the expensive staging and the live bands, and hiring a disc jockey to provide the music.
Pierce made it clear, though, that the fireworks display itself will remain intact and not be cut back on from previous years.
“The Fourth of July is a big event,” Pierce said. “We raise money to cover most of it, but for various reasons we’ve come under the target. We’ve always budgeted an amount in the town’s operating budget but they feel the need to take it out.”
Charging more to get into the show isn’t always the best option, because some people already reportedly grumble at town hall about the price of parking. It costs $35 per carload to get in, if the residents park close, and $20 per carload to get in if they park farther away.
“So we are looking at how we are going to do that, and either raise revenue or cut costs,” Pierce said.
The staging for the bands costs $7,500. Eliminate that, as well as the live local bands, and there is an immediate savings.
“We’re working on different things right now. We are going to move forward quickly,” Pierce said.
It is a big night for the town, with food trucks, ice cream trucks, vendors, and people packing picnics. The show is said to be on par with those in much bigger towns.
The good news is that the other Parks and Recreation Department offering for the summer, the concert series in the parks, appears to be unscathed by the budget cuts. Funding is in place from the self-sustaining budget to host the shows as planned, Pierce said.
The only difference may be a downsizing of the staging used at the concerts.
Local bands will perform at Schenck’s Island and Merwin Meadows during July and August.