Celebrating our country's freedom isn't free, learns Sunnyside Council

While all of the Sunnyside City Council members this past Monday night agreed that a quality Fourth of July celebration for the community is American as apple pie, not all agreed it should be city dollars paying the bill.

In the end, though, the Council agreed to help fund the celebration.

Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell presented Council with a letter from local resident Carol Stone asking Council to contribute $4,000 from the city's tourism fund to help fund this year's Fourth of July celebration. The money the city collects for the tourism fund comes from hotel/motel tax dollars.

Stockwell was in favor of the request, citing the need for the community to have a quality Fourth of July fireworks show. Stockwell added the better the fireworks show on the Fourth, the less likely it is going to be there will be incidents of illegal fireworks being set off.

The city manager also added that with the city stepping up to help fund the event, the burden will be taken off an already tapped out business community. Stockwell lauded the efforts of Stone in trying to raise money to support the fireworks show on the Fourth, which is done in a joint effort by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and the Sunnyside Lions Club. Stone has helped with such things as recycling aluminum cans and helping place collection jars around the community to raise money for the Fourth of July fireworks show.

"I think we should have done it all along," said Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar in regards to the city funding the fireworks display. Aguilar even suggested teaming with the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce to organize a one-day festival in Sunnyside on the Fourth of July.

"I think the city contributing funds is a great idea," echoed Councilman Paul Garcia.

However, Councilman Jim Restucci had a few different thoughts.

"I have a difficult time giving someone $4,000 and have nothing to show for it," said Restucci.

Restucci said he was supportive of the idea of the city helping fund the Fourth of July show, but was shocked to see that nothing detailing where the money is going was given to the Council. Restucci said protocol usually means Council is provided with a detailed list of expenses associated with a funding request. Restucci also wanted to know about the VFW's involvement with putting on the event.

Stone told Council Monday night that the Lions Club and the VFW works together, with the Lions Club taking the lead with the event.

As far as expenses, Stone said it costs about $4,000 to put on a 20-minute fireworks show. She cited how the Granger City Council provides $3,000 for the community's Fourth of July festivities. Stone said she didn't have a breakdown of the costs, but could get one.

Restucci suggested tabling the issue until Council received a spreadsheet detailing expenses. Restucci said once Council receives the breakdown he would have no problem approving the request.

Stockwell, though, pointed out the need for Council to approve the issue now. Stockwell said the order for the fireworks needs to be placed now in time to be here by the Fourth of July. Stockwell suggested Council approve the matter and he would bring back a financial breakdown of costs at a later date. w.ockwelthe order for theprove t

"The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate," said Councilman Bruce Ricks. "(But) I have a problem with us fully funding it."

Ricks expressed his concern with the request made to Council coming at the last minute. Ricks supported the concept of supporting the event, but had concerns with taking $4,000 from the dwindling hotel/motel tax fund account to address the request.

"This is not the place to take it from," said Ricks.

Despite his objections, he cast the lone vote against approving the request by Stone.


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