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A proposal to cut funding for holiday fireworks displays in Salt Lake City's $229 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year is largely a "symbolic gesture," Councilman Kyle LaMalfa said Monday.
Appearing on Trib Talk, the live-streamed current events program at http://www.sltrib.com, LaMalfa said he would not support erasing all funding for fireworks displays on July 4 at Jordan Park and July 24 at Liberty Park.
Still, he said, there are other ways to celebrate the holidays, including food.
The other six council members also have seemed cool to such funding cuts.
In the past, the city has budgeted $25,000 for holiday fireworks. But in his spending plan for the 2014-15 fiscal year, Mayor Ralph Becker has eliminated the funding in addition to cutting a $15,000 grant to the Sugar House Park Authority for the July 4 celebration.
In his annual State of the City address in January, Becker made clean air his top priority. He stressed the need for more legislation concerning clean fuels, increased gasoline taxes and additional mass transit. He also signaled a need to reduce smoke from wood-burning sources. The elimination of fireworks follows the mayor's clean-air theme.
LaMalfa called the fireworks celebration a "polarizing issue" because many residents see the annual displays as a part of their American heritage and tradition. By contrast, residents who live near parks and own pets have been vocal in their complaints against the celebrations.
But, LaMalfa added, its not much of a budget issue or one of clean air. The $25,000 fireworks outlay is a sliver of the annual budget, he said. Further, there are few statistics to indicate that the July 4 and 24 fireworks add significantly to area air pollution.
"We could have a festival without fireworks," LaMalfa said of the July 4 celebration at Jordan Park. "My proposal would be to ratchet up festivities, while ratcheting down fireworks."
The council will continue to address fireworks and the city's budget Tuesday at City Hall, 451 S. State. A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Room 315.
Budget hearing tonight at 7
The Salt Lake City Council will accept comments at 7 p.m. Tuesday from residents about Mayor Ralph Becker's proposed $229 million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The hearing is in Room 315 of City Hall, 451 S. State.