Skyfire Display Facing Funding Shortfall

By: James Steiner
By: James Steiner

The Washoe County Board of Commissioners has to cut more than $12 million from its budget. One thing that might be getting the ax is the popular 4th of July fireworks show at Rancho San Rafael Park.

Bill Johnson, the Executive Director of Skyfire says it doesn't look good.

Overall, county commissioners are recommending cutting $100,000 from their community funding budget. That would include support of the annual Reno fireworks show.

Every 4th of July, we look forward to the sparkling fireworks that blast into the sky from Rancho San Rafael Park. What you may not know is that it takes nearly $50,000 to put on the event.

Some of that money is donated by private sponsors. But a big chunk comes from the county.

"When you have someone take $12,000 away, twenty percent of your budget, it's tough to just fill it with the average person down the street," Johnson said.

Washoe County officials have put the finishing touches on a recommended budget for the coming year - one that reflects a $12.6 dollar cut.

"We've tried very hard to balance the impacts across labor, capital, infrastructure, investment, etc., so that we still have a balanced budget, we still meet our statuatory mandates, we share the burden across the various parts of our system," said Washoe County Manager Katy Singlaub.

Schools are being hit hard with already 31 teachers having received pink slips, 22 of them are music teachers. And, student athletes could face new fees or the elimination of some sports programs.

Ken Knowles\Music Program Supporter]
"The money should go to the music programs," said music supporter Ken KNowles. "The fact they're being cut - I'm not happy about it."

The county held an auction over the weekend - selling old vehicles and equipment. More than $500,000 dollars was raised towards balancing the budget.

Is it enough for community programs like Skyfire?

We won't know until Tuesday. That's when county commissioners will make the final decision.

Promoters understand if they can't put on the show.

"Do I compare cutting kids in the classroom as more important than this. No," said Johnson. "The county has a hard decision to make. unfortunately we're in that mix."

The Skyfire board members will hold an emergency meeting Thursday after the county commissioners meet. If they don't get the funding, the board will recommend cancelling this year's fireworks show.

What about the other shows in town?

The other big one, Star Spangled Sparks, is still a go. I talked with officials of the Sparks Nugget today, the show's main sponsor, and organizers say the Victorian Square celebration will happen Friday, July 4th.


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