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Waukegan cancels holiday fireworks

The city Waukegan will not have fireworks for its Independence Day celebratithis year. | File photo

The city of Waukegan will not have fireworks for its Independence Day celebration this year. | File photo

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Updated: June 22, 2011 2:29AM

WAUKEGAN — Twenty years ago this month, the City Council considered whether or not to save $7,500 by cancelling the annual Independence Day fireworks display at the lakefront. After some debate, the council voted 6-2 to approve the expense, and the show went on.

On Monday, with financial concerns again at the forefront, the council voted unanimously to approve a spending plan for the current fiscal year that, among other things, eliminates $25,000 that had been budgeted to pay for next month’s fireworks display.

In recent years, the display had been fired off Municipal Beach as part of festivities that included a performance in the nearby Stiner Pavilion by the Waukegan Municipal Band. But city officials didn’t schedule a display for 2011 in anticipation that the funding might be cut.

City officials pointed out that the annual Independence Day parade on Sheridan Road, which is funded by the Waukegan Park District, will go on as scheduled at 1 p.m. July 3. The parade will end at Bowen Park with a festival that will run until 5 p.m.

However, city Clerk Wayne Motley, who serves on the Park District Board, said there are no guarantees for a 2012 parade.

“We have the funding for this year, but not for next year,” Motley said. “We’re looking for ways to boost our revenue to make sure we can have it next year.”

As for the city’s financial picture, the appropriations ordinance approved on Monday features a deficit of $2.7 million, down from $8.7 million earlier this year. The council had delayed passage of the measure since late April, choosing instead to authorize necessary expenditures while negotiations continued with employee unions.

On Monday, 1st Ward Ald. Sam Cunningham initially requested another postponement, noting that the deadline is July 31. He also expressed interest in having Mayor Robert Sabonjian present for the vote, and Sabonjian was absent on Monday for the second consecutive council meeting, which was chaired by 5th Ward Ald. Edith Newsome.

According to a city spokesman, Sabonjian was in Baltimore on Monday attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and was attending another out-of-town conference on the night of the June 6 council meeting.

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