For the second year now, Wallingford runs the risk of not having its annual fireworks display.
I remember being at the council meeting during these discussions last year. Numerous residents spoke about their desire to keep the celebration intact, suggesting that the Council and/or the administration approach local businesses to sponsor part of the event or the entire event.
The Town Council voted to shift $30,715 in savings from a renegotiated insurance contract to cover the cost in order to keep the event as scheduled.
The problem was solved for that year and the show would go on.
Anyone with a strong pulse knows that the economy continued to slide up to and through this point so it should be no surprise that anything saved by stop gap measures or “found” monies from the year prior would certainly be at risk again. So did we do any planning ahead of pending issues like this?
Nope. “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
We had an entire year to think about who we might approach for some or all of the funding. We had an entire year to possibly talk about fund raising events to collect the monies for the event. Maybe a donation bucket at Celebrate Wallingford so that even the residents might chip in by donating some spare change or a ziti dinner or something to that effect.
No one in a position of responsibility did anything at all and here we are again. Worse this time is that there is probably no more money sitting around to be found; the budget is tighter this year than it ever was and there is less support for using it even if it could be found.
Where was the planning?
Oh, that’s right; we don’t do that here in town for the most part. There is no real strategic planning at all.
Some would say, “The fireworks celebration, while a nice thing, should not be at the top of priorities with everything else going on.”
This is just one small example of the many things we do not plan on at all. Whether it is the “small, nice to have” things like the fireworks display to the larger “how are we going to address all the issues at the schools that were NOT addressed in the recent $75 million renovation,” we do not have a proactive plan of action to address these things.
We only react to them when they are inevitably forced upon us. When we are forced to react without a plan there are few, limited ways to handle costs and keep them more in line. When there is planning you can better and aggressively manage cost.
The past couple of council meetings have been very short (one was less than 10 minutes); we certainly could have discussed smaller items such as this and start discussions of tactical and proactive plans for the future when agendas are light like these recent ones were.
If the people in the position to handle the small things do not do this very well how can we expect them to handle the larger issues at all?
As for the fireworks, I take no comfort in the fact that Southington and Cheshire do not sponsor fireworks for the 4th. Whether I think they should or shouldn’t has no bearing. I live here in Wallingford where we always had (over my entire life in this town) a display. I think we should continue to do so. If we need to take a cue from Meriden (and solicit larger businesses for sponsorship) or handle some smaller fundraising we should find a way to get it done.
That task I place on the administration and our elected officials.
I challenge Wallingford citizens with the task to dig into their pockets to help sponsor the event.
Are you up to the challenge?