SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced his proposal to cut city funding for fireworks, the city council got a chance to meet and discuss the idea.
It was during Tuesday’s budget workshop.
Currently the city spends about $25,000 annually for two fireworks displays: Fourth of July at Jordan Park and Pioneer Day at Liberty Park.
Becker wants to cut that funding because he says fireworks have a negative effect on the air.
“Just the notion, by cutting two fireworks displays from the city, it is going to make an impact on clean air, isn’t going to make a lot of sense,” said Salt Lake City Chair, Charlie Luke.
Luke is one of at least a few council members who don’t support Becker’s proposal to stop funding fireworks.
“To me it makes more sense to encourage people to participate in more of a community type of setting where you have a controlled firework display as opposed to everyone doing their own thing and shooting fireworks off in their front yard or in the street,” Luke said.
Council member Lisa Adams said there are plenty of other ways to protect the air the city should look into first like enhancing public transportation.
“This is kind of a ridiculous cut, only doing it to make a statement, I appreciate the statement but think there are better things to do,” Adams said. “It’s a great tradition and it’s not like we’re doing it six times a week, we’re doing it two times, the 4th and the 24th, we’re done.”
Council member Kyle LaMalfa said the data doesn’t lie.
“There are measurable spikes in quality of air in terms of being bad right around the 24th of July and Fourth of July,” LaMalfa said.
LaMalfa would like to see a transition period, where the city slowly phases out fireworks, in exchange for other activities.
“Maybe there is some rationing back of the fireworks to respect the fact that we do have some air quality problems but also balance our need and desire to come together on one of the greatest holidays of the year,” LaMalfa said.
All council members agree clean air is important, but you also just can’t rush into decisions that affect thousands of people and decades of tradition.
“Until we have a viable plan B in place it doesn’t make sense to cut,” Luke said.
The city council will discuss the issue again at their June 3 hearing at 7 p.m. A vote is expected to come later in the month.