EMERALD ISLE — Emerald Isle commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to cancel the annual Fourth of July fireworks show and beach music festival, citing budgetary concerns.
The two separate motions to cancel the events, made during the board’s monthly meeting in town hall and online via GoToWebinar, came a little more than a month after the town board of commissioners discussed the possibility in a budget work session.
“I love fireworks,” Commissioner Jim Normile said before the vote on a motion by Commissioner Steve Finch to cancel the show, which is held at Bogue Inlet Pier and attracts thousands of viewers to the beach and along town streets.
During the March 9 work session, commissioners expressed concerned Carteret County might switch to a new distribution method for state-shared sales and use tax revenues, reducing Emerald Isle’s share. That doesn’t look likely to happen for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins Thursday, July 1, but finance director Laura Rotchford said she and town manager Matt Zapp still have “overall budget concerns.”
For example, during the March work session, Mr. Zapp said because of coronavirus restrictions, the parks and recreation department had to cancel some revenue-producing programs.
In addition, officials said the Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority’s financial support for the Emerald Isle Beach Music Festival has been declining, and it appears business sponsorship for the event would likely be down this year, as well.
Tuesday night, Ms. Rotchford told the board the two events combined cost the town about $71,000, and that doesn’t include extra money paid to emergency services personnel who work overtime.
“I do recommend canceling for budgetary reasons,” she said.
Commissioner Mark Taylor made the successful motion to cancel the music festival, which was to have been Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Western Ocean Regional Access.
The town also canceled the annual St. Patrick’s Festival and the Emerald Isle Marathon, but those decisions were made because of pandemic-related dangers and state restrictions on large gatherings.
Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email Brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.