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Lathrop leaders balk at $85K bill for fireworks, celebration
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LATHROP — The Lathrop City Council wants to see a fireworks display that the community can enjoy.

They just don’t want to see the City of Lathrop foot the $85,000 bill to make it possible along with a week-long community celebration.

During a discussion about funding for a pair of mayor’s committees – the Lathrop celebration committee which oversees the fireworks display and a new beautification committee that would push a community-wide involvement day similar to the “Love Modesto” event held on April 28 – majority of the council expressed more of a desire to push the beautification day than the expensive summer event.

With roughly $20,000 going to the fireworks display alone and $50,000 to cover the overtime of Lathrop cops and private security guards that need to be hired, the exorbitant cost had some jumping ship right out of the gate.

“Fourth of July is nice, but I don’t think that the city should be in the business of funding parties,” said Councilwoman Martha Salcedo – even before the meat of the argument came. “Everybody wants to see Lathrop beautiful. I can understand that option – we all want to live in a nice environment.”

But that’s not to say that the fireworks are completely out of the realm of possibility.

The council agreed to bring both matters back on Monday, Feb. 27, for further discussion and possible action. Ideas discussed that will be looked into included forming a partnership with a non-profit – the Lathrop Rotary has already offered $5,000 in seed money to establish a funding mechanism that generate what is required to make the fireworks a reality – as well as trimming as much overtime out of the proposal as possible.

City Manager Cary Keaten said he doesn’t think that the city is going to have much wiggle room like they’ve had in past years – when individual departments would simply absorb the costs associated with the event because cushion was built into the budget. Financial constraints have since stripped the budget to a bare bones level.

And if things go according to Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal’s plan, it won’t even be the residents that will be covering the overtime and materials cost needed for the “Love Lathrop” day set to kick-off at the end of April.

Dhaliwal challenged his fellow council members to each raise $520 through private donations and community businesses – totaling the $2,600 needed to fund the event – so that dipping into reserves won’t be needed to fund the event. Both Salcedo and Councilman Omar Ornelas – who initially pitched the idea for the event – said that they wouldn’t likely be able to come up with the funds but would be willing to pitch in other ways.

Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos said that he’ll take the reins by making phone calls while Dhaliwal and Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo can pound the pavement asking for contributions.