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Cookeville City Council Members Debate Fireworks Show Funding

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville City Council Members Debate Fireworks Show Funding

Council Member Eric Walker said he remains concerned about Better Cookeville receiving city funding for the 2024 July 4th fireworks.

Walker said the non-profit has a healthy fund balance and does not need city funding right now. Further, he said he believes it is wrong that one week the organization’s Facebook page will promote the show one week and two weeks later, post political endorsements.

“I think when you overstep and you use your organization to politically advocate for the same official office that’s funding you,” Walker said. “Then I think yeah, the lines got too blurry.”

Walker said he is all for the fireworks show, but has concerns with the way it is funded currently. Council Member Chad Gilbert said this kind of public-private partnership is important to bring high-quality entertainment for a fraction of the cost.

“We have a public-private partnership that the precedent was set by previous councils which includes the person who runs it, which if ever there was a conflict I think that would have been it and I think that was vetted then,” Gilbert said. “What we’re talking about now is inflationary pressures and what it take to maintain the standard we’ve set and that quality of life category.”

Walker said he planned to amend the fireworks portion of the budget when the council holds its meeting Thursday. Council Members did not bring up for discussion any other issues related to the budget submitted two weeks ago by City Manager James Mills. They did comment on changes brought up by Finance Director Brenda Imel based on previous discussions on their two-day budget work session.

Mayor Laurin Wheaton said she felt the $20,000 could be spent on other things that are also deserving of the council’s attention.

“There’s other organizations that come and ask us for money, there’s non-profits that the committee decided not to give to, so we do say no to other organizations,” Wheaton said. “(…) I feel like the return on investment for [the Biz Foundry] is much more substantial than another $12,000 for fireworks just to be honest. I’d rather see $12,000, even if it’s just $12,000, go to the development of an indoor sports complex or an aquatics center.”

But Gilbert said the Biz Foundry received three times the amount that was originally recommended by a citizen committee. Both Walker and Wheaton proposed that change during the work session.

Imel said in the past the city pays Better Cookeville which then provides a copy of the canceled check where it turns around and pays the exact amount to the fireworks vendor.


The post Cookeville City Council Members Debate Fireworks Show Funding appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.