Bennington's Fourth of July Fireworks Display Show
Date: July 4
Event contact:Stuart Hurd; firstname.lastname@example.org ; 802) 442-1037
Fireworks display company:
Details:BENNINGTON — The town's annual Fourth of July fireworks display remains in jeopardy as fundraising efforts to support it have stalled.
Bennington Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd said the town has raised only $1,000 so far, and has only half of the funding needed to put on a fireworks display comparable to past years. Last year's display cost about $12,000, he said.
"We're still short about $6,500. We have really another month in which to try to raise the money, but ... it's not coming in very fast," Hurd said.
The company hired by the town to put on the display will need to know within a month what the town plans to do, Hurd said.
During the budget process earlier this year, the Select Board made cuts to discretionary spending, which included the annual fireworks show. In the past, the town budgeted $8,500, but reduced that amount by $6,000 to $2,500 this year. Casella Waste Management has pledged a donation of $2,500 in the past, and will do so again this yea0r, Hurd said, so the Select Board decided to keep that amount in the budget as a match and raise the rest in the business community.
But the business community has, so far, not chipped in. "Those that I've contacted that I thought would support it have not responded," he said.
The town is left with a few options, Hurd said. It can cancel the show, plan for a smaller display or look to the Select Board for additional funding.
My guess is that they would try to make up the difference if they can afford to do so," he said of the board.
Hurd said residents are likely to be disappointed if the town opts to go with a shorter, cheaper display. "People have come to expect a 20 to 25 minute display. When you start cutting that down by a quarter or half, you start looking at a 10 to 15 minute show that I think will disappoint people," he said.
Three or four "major sponsors" contributing $500 to $1,000 each "would make a heck of a dent," Hurd said. "If we can get up to $12,000 we can have a very nice show," he said.
The board is also asking surrounding towns to kick in funding because many of their residents come to Bennington for the show.
Select Board member Jason Morrissey said the board is in favor of continuing the search for sponsors. It's too early to talk about the board kicking in more funding, though, he said.
"There's still time to avoid that," he said. "We are working on those options."
Morrissey said the board made difficult choices during the budget process, but the decisions were necessary.
"When you look at our budget this year, it's very chronicled that we have a lean budget," Morrissey said. "We could have made a zillion exceptions, but we made no exceptions, or played favorites."