CHIPLEY - At Monday’s budget workshop, Chipley City Council member Brett Butler shared community feedback about a dwindling flame for city-funded fireworks.
“I enjoy it … but it’s a lot of money spent for entertainment that we can get more bang for our buck elsewhere,” Butler said. Butler added that several of his constituents feel the same way.
In recent years, the City agreed to collaborate with local organizations, such as churches, to put on a fireworks show. However, organizations have reportedly not stepped up to help fund the fireworks, leaving the City footing a bill of about $10,000.
The event's intent was to provide safe, family-fun entertainment and possibly curb crime and other dangerous activities. The proposal for city-sponsored fireworks came after dangerous events unfolded in the area of Anderson Street in 2014. Approximately 200 individuals - mostly juveniles - were launching illegal fireworks, resulting in bottle rockets being fired into police patrol vehicles, and broken windows within the Chipley Housing Authority complex.
Officials hoped by hosting fireworks, the City would offer a safe alternative and reduce the likelihood of similar incidents.
But according to Police Chief Scott Thompson, the fireworks “have not mitigated the problem to the extent to what it was created for."
Currently, the only fireworks legal for use by consumers who do not possess a special permit are those that fall into the category known as "sparklers." While many residents still purchase other fireworks, none which "leave the ground" are legal. In Florida, possession or use of illegal fireworks is classified as a misdemeanor with penalties that can include arrest and up to a $1,000 fine and a one-year prison sentence.
The council appeared to agree to revisit the line item later, however, keeping it in the proposed budget.
Also at the workshop, the council reviewed street improvement capital projects that would cost about $707,000.
According to City Administrator Dan Miner, the city has several roads that are impassable and it has been decades since the roads have been repaved.
The council will meet hold a public hearing to discuss the tentative millage and budget adoption at 5:05 p.m. Thursday, September 21.