The city of Reynoldsburg will be uncharacteristically quiet on the Fourth of July this year, thanks to the absence of the community parade and fireworks.
Mayor Bob McPherson said although these and other traditional community events have been eliminated due to budget constraints, he has not heard much in the way of rumblings from the community.
"I’ve probably gotten three e-mails and had one phone call," he said. "Out of 36,000 residents, that’s not very many."
McPherson said the city put the word out almost as soon as last year’s Fourth of July festivities were over.
"We let everyone know last year that this was coming," he said. "I think they pretty well expected it."
In late August and early September, he said, a close look at the 2007 budget showed they could save $40,000 to $50,000 by eliminating the city’s participation in some of the community events.
"We talked about how we were going to cut back on all the support," he said, noting the fireworks alone cost the city $25,000 a year. "We’ve seen an economic downturn in our city and this is the result of it."
The savings were returned back to the city coffers, and other cuts were made, to allow for the hiring of two additional police officers.
"I had to make a decision to provide for citizen safety first," he said. "That’s more important than $25,000 worth of fireworks … The bottom line is you do what you have to do to make the budget balance."
McPherson said several fraternal organizations have already inquired about how to return the parade and fireworks next year.
"I think next year we will probably see private businesses and fraternal organizations take over to bring back these events," he said.
He encouraged any residents with an interest in helping bring the Fourth of July events back next year to make their willingness known.
"You just have to get involved as a citizen if you want to see some of these things happen," he said.
In the meantime, McPherson encouraged residents to celebrate this year’s Independence Day quietly with their families.
"It’s all about family and getting together," he said.
With the absence of city-wide fireworks, McPherson said, Reynoldsburg residents should not get the idea they can create their own personal fireworks displays.
"We are going to be enforcing the law," he said, noting it is illegal for Reynoldsburg residents to set off fireworks. "It’s a first-degree misdemeanor."