Township Committee Votes To Fund Fourth of July Parade
3-2 vote shows committee members weighing financial concerns against community.
After a months long debate dating back to October 2010, the Township Committee voted to fund the police overtime for the Fourth of July parade and 5k run at its meeting on Tuesday night.
“We need to give a clear direction this year, because this cannot go on,” committeewoman Deb Nielson said. “Its not fair to the residents of Montville.”
The motion to fund the police overtime for the Fourth of July events, with a provision to make arrangements to discuss the funding of the parade earlier in the year to avoid similar disputes, was passed with a 3-2 vote.
“We have drawn the strings on town spending, but at some point, we need to have something that the people can come out to,” Mayor Jim Sandham said. “This is the last thing we have.”
Sandham, Nielson and committeeman Scott Gallopo voted in favor of undertaking the cost of the parade, while committee members Don Kostka and Tim Braden voted against it due to financial concerns.
“We will be sitting here next year at this very time talking about these very issues and we will have no information on where we are with our budget,” Braden said. “We are the ones who have to walk into this building and look in the faces of people we may have to lay off or cut benefits for. I enjoy the parade. My neighborhood is upset that it [might be] canceled, but they do not have to lay people off or cut benefits."
Because the 2011 budget is not yet completed, the Township Committee, currently working off numbers from 2010, does not know how much it will receive in state aid or revenue.
“At the end of the day, it’s a tough thing,” Kostka said. “We don’t know what our revenue is, what our expenses are. The parade is important; I can’t disagree with that, but what happens if you have to lay people off?
The current cost of police overtime for the parade is not yet known, though it is expected to be “about 7,500,” according to township administrator Frank Bastone.
For Irwin Paster, head of the Fourth of July committee, the Township Committee’s decision is both good news and a sign of more work to come.
“This has been going for eight weeks, and what bothers me is that we’ve had to wait so long," he said. "Our work is just getting started.”
Paster wrote a letter to the township committee in October 2010 telling the Township Committee that the Fourth of July committee was planning to cancel the parade due to funding difficulties. Since then, the Township Committee has been discussing ways to cut the costs of the parade, as well as means to make the parade an annual line item to avoid such discussions in the future.
“It should be a line item if we’re going to do it every year,” Nielson said.
Mayor Sandham stressed that, while he was aware of the finical issues in the township, the parade is important to Montville.
“I understand the concerns, the state of the economy and our budget, but I think we’re at a danger of losing our community here,” he said.