As the financial future of our fair city hangs in the balance, it seems that Mayor Dave Bing is pulling out every stop he can to free up some money. This is understood, but unfortunately, it seems that with this huge budget deficit, Detroiters are in danger of losing some of the signature events and holiday traditions that we look forward to each year. According to the Detroit Free Press, on Friday, Mayor Bing announced that “the city is unable to sustain the public safety and public works costs associated with regional events held in the city beyond this year’s fireworks without outside help.” Bing has already appealed to Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties along with the Michigan State Police, to assist in funding the 54th Annual Target Fireworks, scheduled for June 25 and costing an estimated $700,000.
“The city’s current fiscal operating structure, starting with the budget as approved for fiscal year 2012-13 on July 1, no longer includes the costs for these regional events,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office. “As such, we will actively engage the Parade Company and our regional partners to discuss the financial sustainability of events like the fireworks and the Thanksgiving Day parade in the future.”
In contrast to this announcement, Tony Michaels, President and CEO of the Parade Company—-which puts on both the Thanksgiving parade and the Fireworks—- insisted that the Fireworks and also the 86-year tradition of the Thanksgiving Parade will continue on, despite Michaels’ admitted involvement in the city’s desperate plea to various counties for help with this year’s fireworks. All three county sheriff’s offices have also agreed to send deputies and reserves to help with crowd control and other public safety needs at the fireworks, but they are expecting future reimbursement.
However, Bing seems to be a little vague when it comes to the repayment of outside law enforcement, stating that some regional law enforcement assistance was “in-kind.” Detroit is paying a portion of the regional law enforcement assistance “through an amendment to an existing grant,” according to Bing’s statement.
“If there wasn’t any funding available, I don’t think we would be able to pick up that because our budgets are shrinking, too,” said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.
Michaels said the Parade Company would work on a solution through meetings with the state, city and the three counties if funding for law enforcement needs for future events remains uncertain.
We all know Detroit is facing hard times, but I definitely think it would be a bad idea for Bing to not pay back law enforcement from other counties for doing us the favor of providing security at our city’s fireworks. In my personal opinion, law enforcement is not the area where we need to save money so hopefully, other corners can be cut to keep the Thanksgiving Parade and Fireworks in operation. All in all, I hope Bing has a plan!! Nevertheless, let’s enjoy what may be Detroit’s last Target Fireworks Celebration on Monday, June 25, 2012, and let’s all throw some good vibes in the air for this year’s Thanksgiving Parade!