MARCO ISLAND — The rockets red glare will fill the skies over Marco Island on July 4, 2012.
In a 6-1 decision by Marco Island City Council on Monday, the city agreed to fund 50 percent or $20,000 for next year’s Independence Day fireworks. Marco Island restaurateur Joey Oliverio, of Joey’s Pizza and Pasta House, agreed to head up a community organization to raise the rest. Councilor Chuck Kiester voted against the motion.
Last year’s fireworks cost $40,000, and the barge to launch them offshore and within view of Marco Island’s beachfront cost approximately $12,000 to rent.
Prior to the meeting, the Marco Island Planning Board sent a letter to city councilors asking them to consider using profits from the Farmers’ Market to fund the fireworks. On Monday, Monte Lazarus, a member of the board, forwarded that idea to council and added another. He suggested the city assess each property owner $2 to cover the cost.
Neither an assessment nor using revenues from the Farmers’ Market sat well with council.
Councilor Bill Trotter pointed out, since funds from the Farmers’ Market already go to the city, taking money out of its profits would equal taking it out of the general fund. Trotter was amenable to releasing city funds if a community group would raise the remainder.
He also felt that waiting until spring to make a decision left planners little time to sign a contract with a fireworks company or plan for the barge to launch them.
“I’ve been through this process seven times already and we wait until May and there is a hurry-up decision,” Trotter said. “Then council looks like Grinches at the 11th hour if we chose not to offer funds.”
Amedeo Petricca, a member of the Utilities Advisory Board, opposed any use of Farmers’ Market funds for fireworks. He pointed out the city owes $850,000 annually on the purchase of Veterans’ Community Park. All money from the Farmers’ Market should be used to defray payments, he said.
It was Dr. Faye Biles, speaking as a local resident, who suggested a community group could set the wheels in motion to help raise funds.
“I think people will bend over backwards to give the money if someone will just step up to lead the drive,” she said.
Oliverio came forward to accept the challenge.
“I’ve raised money for this event in the past. It draws a lot of revenue to the community. I hire college students in the summer and it helps pay for their schooling. If the city will match the funds, I’ll step up to the plate and chair a committee,” he said.
That was enough commitment for Council Vice Chairman Larry Magel to make the motion for the 50-50 split between the city and the community. Councilor Joe Batte seconded, and the motion was approved.