Increased fee for fireworks sellers in Pittsburg causing concern
One local business may not be able to open
PITTSBURG, Kan. — Last year, the City of Pittsburg increased their fee for firework stand permits to $5,000. While many operators have had few issues with the increase, some of the smaller shops are running into issues.
Michelle Sellars and her husband operate BKC Fireworks in Frontenac and four years ago, they expanded by opening a tent on the parking lot of Ron’s Supermarket in Pittsburg. Michelle Sellars says “The first two years that we opened this tent we were able to donate a little less than $2,000 to Pitt State and because of this raise in the license fee we have not been able to make that donation this last year.”
But last year, the City of Pittsburg raised the permit fee from $250 to $5,000. Sellars says “It made it a lot more challenging, we’ve had to cut some staff in order to try and make sure we can make ends meet as far as this tent and it still be profitable.”
Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall says that jump may seem significant, but he says the fee hadn’t been raised in about twenty years, and there are newer costs to the city that the fee helps offset. Daron Hall says “The fee goes into the general fund and it’s used to pay for the annual fireworks show, which, last year the fee is $5,000 per vendor, we had five vendors, so we raised $25,000 for the annual fireworks show, which is usually just north of $20,000 so that was one reason it was set at the amount it was.”
Additionally, Hall says the fee helps fund the additional labor needed for the fire department during the 4th of July week because of the increase in calls they get. However, they didn’t just pick the $5,000 amount at random. Hall says “We did our research we talked to a lot of communities, we called 20 of our Kansas communities that are similar to us, $5,000 was right in the middle of that.”
Hall says the other vendors in the city haven’t had an issue with the fee, but for Sellars being a “mom-and-pop” type operation, it’s more difficult, and they’re not sure if they’ll return to Pittsburg this year. Sellars says “We’re still debating, we’re hoping that they will go ahead and lower the license fee some, I understand it’s not going to go back to $250 but if they could lower it some to make it more feasible we want to stay, we want to be here.”
Sellars says she and her husband understand the city’s reasoning, and hope they can work together to find a rate that helps the city and helps them come back to Pittsburg.
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