There are two days during the year which people celebrate with a patriotic theme as the backdrop: Memorial Day and Independence Day. The city of Dunkirk provides funding to help city residents - and visitors - to enjoy both days.
The July 4 fireworks herald the freedoms the founders of the United States fought for, while the Memorial Day parade honors the men and women who served the country in defending those freedoms. Just like those previous battles came with a cost, so do the celebrations marking those accomplishments. While the cost is not in lives, there are taxpayer dollars involved.
How much in taxpayer dollars has been a concern of Common Council and Mayor Anthony J. Dolce provided some information, with more coming from Kevin Mikula in the Fiscal Affairs Office.
OBSERVER file photos
Pictured are photos of recent Memorial Day (top) and July 4th (above) celebrations in Dunkirk. Revenue to cover costs came from sponsors, city taxpayers and vendor rents.
Dolce said he put together the spreadsheet containing the July 4 figures. The fireworks display cost $30,000, Atlas Comfort Cabins $1,440; Bestway Container Service $50; band $700; sound for band was $300; an electrician received $425 for services and overtime totaled $2,620.
Hours dedicated by city employees were also detailed, all at straight time, according to the mayor. City Clerk Lacy Lawrence put in 25 hours at a cost of $400; DPW Director Tony Gugino put in 50 hours at a cost of $1,593; Parks Department personnel accumulated 130 hours at a cost of $3,1350; Streets Department personnel put in 101 hours at a cost of $2,433 while seasonal labor from both departments accumulated 320 hours at a cost of $2,560.
The total cost to stage the July 4 events came to $45,675, leaving the city with a shortfall of $2,828 needed to cover the $45,675 cost for the annual event.
Revenue to cover costs came from sponsors, city taxpayers and vendor rents.
The carryover from 2011 amounted to $8,347 while 2012 sponsors kicked in $13,200. City taxpayers provided $15,000 through the Fund I budget with vendors paying $6,300 for the opportunity to make some money. Dolce said it was money well spent while noting that net loss of just under $3,000.
"The Fourth of July is an investment that the city makes and it is a successful day and evening," he added. "I also feel we can put in a few measures possibly next year, to get even closer to breaking even."
The sponsor carryover from 2011 almost didn't happen.
"In the beginning of the year there was a chance that the sponsors' carryover was going to be redistributed throughout the budget. I made sure to pull it and put it in the fireworks account so we were able to use that money toward putting on the fourth of July celebration. If I was a sponsor, I would want to be sure it went to fireworks," Dolce explained. "I was very pleased with the response from the public and cannot thank the business community and local organizations enough for their donations. We most definitely would have to curtail the amount of fireworks we purchase without their support."
Mikula is the payroll clerk in the Fiscal Affairs Office and provided numbers on overtime expense the city incurred during the two holiday events. The Police Department was the biggest overtime expense for July 4, not a surprise, given the influx of people into the city and its harborfront.
According to Mikula's report, the department's $2,220 in overtime resulted from three additional officers being scheduled to work the day as part of their work week, equaling 12 hours of holiday pay; five officers from the 11-7 shift were assigned to report at 7 p.m. for four hours of overtime each plus the 10 hours of straight holiday pay. In addition, officers from the 3-11 shift were held over due to traffic and activity for an additional seven hours of overtime.
The Streets Department put in four hours setting up barricades at a cost of $143; Parks Department workers accumulated six hours of comp time totaling $140 and Public Works Supervisor Mike Porpiglia put in four hours at a cost of $117.42 in overtime.
The overtime total of $2,480 added to the $140 in comp time adds up to the $2,620 Dolce cited.
Memorial Day parade overtime expense was mainly in the streets and parks departments.
Streets incurred $1,287 in overtime with 12 hours of rubbish pickup and 26.5 hours setting up and removing barricades and cones. Parks had 4.5 hours of parade route setup overtime totaling $177 with 10.5 hours of comp time given in lieu of overtime pay for parade route setup and takedown totaling $244.
Porpiglia received $249 for 8.5 hours of overtime for duties on Memorial Day and five hours of comp time in lieu of overtime pay for duties during the Sunday setup prior to Memorial Day totaling $146.
Additional Police Department costs associated with the parade consisted of scheduling three extra officers from the 7-3 shift to work that day as part of their regular work week, equaling 12 hours of straight holiday pay. Five officers would have been assigned to work that day as minimum manpower. That added $420 to the overtime total of $2,133. The comp time cost was $390, making the city's total employee expense for the parade $2,524.
Dolce noted the city budgeted $2,500 toward the parade in its Fund I budget that is used by parade organizers in staging the event.
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