City fireworks spending brings one ‘no’ vote’

The Fourth of July fireworks show should be just as good as last year’s at the city of Dunkirk waterfront.

The decision to hire Zambelli Fireworks Inter-nationale of New Castle, Pa., to put on the display at a cost of $30,000 did not come unanimously however, as Councilwoman Stacy Szukala provided the lone no vote in the 3-1 decision.

Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak did not attend the meeting, which was chaired by Councilman Michael Michalski.

Before the vote, Szukala stated her reasoning for wanting to cut $5,000 from the fireworks display, something she had brought up during budget talks.

“I’ve had discussions with the mayor and I think for me it’s just that we keep going back to the same businesses and clubs year after year for donations,” she said.

“Some of them are struggling right now,” she explained. “For me, I’d like to see us change that to $25,000 but I think that I might be the only one here wishing to do so. Time is of the essence, if we don’t vote on this this evening it’s possible that we won’t have a fireworks display moving forward.

“But having said that, I think it’s a strong message that we send if we were to cut back somewhat in what we’re putting out there and what we’re asking the community to give back.”

In response to a question, Dolce said donations were down in 2013 to about $10,000 from the normal $15-20,000, but that may have been due to including fireworks donation requests with the festivals request in one letter.

“If we were to go with $25,000, what in essence that would do is there would be $5,000 less for fireworks but $5,000 more that would be spent on other festivals,” Dolce explained. “We thought the most cost-effective amount for the fireworks is the $30,000, and that’s why this resolution is before council tonight.”

Public Works Director Tony Gugino told council time was spent examining the bid proposals and said spending $5,000 less would result in 430 fewer shells.

‘From a personal standpoint, I think that this is one of the few things that Dunkirk’s got going consistently well. Every year it’s a phenomenal no-brainer. It brings a lot of people to the city and reducing by $5,000 even after the money was approved in the budget, to me is personally not where I would cut from, because of the value of bringing everyone to town, in some cases from out of state,” Gugino added. “Finally I’ve already pledged some money from my family toward the fireworks either way, because I think it’s that important.”

Councilman Adelino Gonzalez called for being more aggressive in seeking donations and Dolce said requests will go to an expanded list of potential donors this year.

Szukala said her family goes to Silver Creek’s 7-minute fireworks every year, a 16-minute drive.

“I wouldn’t decide not to go just because the show was smaller,” she added. “I’m just trying to move forward in a direction where we’re trying to cut corners wherever we can and I would never vote to eliminate the fireworks. I just think it’s sending the message to the companies that are struggling that we’re trying to do our best.”

Council approved the hiring of William Smock to run the Cable Access 12 station at $1,000 per month for the period from April 2 to March 31, 2015.

Prior to the vote, Dolce thanked Councilman William J. Rivera for his work “bringing Mr. Smock to us.”

“I’ve had many conversations with Mr. Smock and the first order of business would be setting up a camera in the conference room so we’ll be able to get all our wonderful sub-committee meetings and many other countless meetings that we have on with relative ease,” Dolce added. “So we’re very excited about that possibility. We’ll start to see things happening this month.”

After the meeting Dolce said Smock is working on local programming, including high school sports, graduation, Music on the Pier, festivals and the Memorial Day parade, adding live council meetings are a month or two away.

“It’s a natural fit for volunteers through the high school where he’s using it as a learning experience so they’ll have that opportunity,” Dolce added. “He’s well versed with many members of the community he can work with and get events on. So even if he’s not the one doing the filming, other people will be bringing the events to him to get on.”

Council also approved a Boardwalk Market lease for Papaya Arts Inc. from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2016 at an annual fee of $6,037.50, along with the transfer of $11,000 between wastewater treatment accounts for the purchase of a new refrigerated all-weather sampler and associated equipment.

Resolution 31-2014, modifying the definition of slug in the city’s sewer use ordinance to conform to general pre-treatment requirements contained in 40 Code of Federal Regulations Part 403, was tabled for a public hearing on April 15 at 5:20 p.m.

Send comments to gsnyder@observertoday.com