MARCO ISLAND — Fireworks are a Fourth of July tradition. But over the last few years, paying for the illuminating display has been harder and harder for Marco Island city leaders. Now, members of the island’s Planning Board hope they have a solution.
Members voted unanimously on Friday to urge City Council to consider using proceeds from the seasonal Farmer’s Market to finance the annual fireworks.
The market has been a profitable endeavor for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The weekly gathering brought in a $65,000 profit and that number is expected to increase next year.
“It’s an ideal vehicle for raising sufficient funds to pay for the fireworks and still have an ample amount in reserves,” said Planning Board member Monte Lazarus, who credited Ken Honecker, chairman of the Utility Advisory Board (UAB) for the idea. Lazarus had considered suggesting a small assessment, such as $2 per household, to fund the annual pyrotechnic show, and idea that did not go over well with residents in the audience who spoke out against it. Some said they believe more tourists take advantage of the fireworks show than residents.
“Instead of putting the burden on homeowners who are already taxed to their ears, the Marriott has 700 rooms, let them pay for it,” said Larry Sacher of the Marco Island Homeowners Association. Sacher stated that with home values going down on the island, residents would rather see city proceeds being used to reduce city costs.
But board member Irv Povlow argued that businesses bring in tax dollars to the island and provide valuable service to residents and tourists alike.
“To put the burden on the businesses is somewhat unfair, too,” Povlow said. “There are a lot of good people who come from all over the country and the world that weekend.
“It’s a tough situation when you have to struggle to raise money,” he added.
Amadeo Petricca , a UAB member, said he believed City Council is considering using Farmers Market proceeds to reduce the debt on Veteran’s Park.
Ultimately, it will be up to city council to decide how to spend the profits.
“I believe the 4th of July is more than picnics and kids,” Lazarus commented to his fellow board members. “The significance should be important to all of us.”