Council Better Be Right On Fireworks Change

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The latest 4-3 vote of the Ocean City Council took place last week and involved a change in the provider for the town’s annual Independence Day fireworks displays at the Inlet and Northside park.

It was a contentious discussion at times among the council members as well as between certain city employees and council members. The end result being the former provider lost the job in favor of a new company who produced a significantly lower bid for the job.

This sort of thing happens every day in the business world of competitive bidding, but it’s the high-profile nature of this move that worries many and certainly serves as further confirmation the divide between the current council is showing no signs of regression.

Putting aside the political differences, the bottom line here is it will not be known whether this decision was sound until around 10 p.m. on July 4. That’s when it will be known whether saving $22,000 was worth the risk of going with a provider the city has never dealt with previously.

With this change comes pressure to ensure there is no significant drop off in the quality of the shows. However, at this point, we need to trust the city did its research and has faith in the new company, which does have a long history in the fireworks business.

The only way the change and subsequent cost savings makes sense is if there is no discernible difference between this year’s fireworks and previous years. We are hoping that’s the case.

By July, most local attendees to the dual displays will not recall that a vendor change was made, and visitors will have no idea, but it will become a major problem if they do not live up to expectations, which will be based on previous years.

Further complicating this move was the decision this week to send the savings recouped on this change to a coalition of north Ocean City business owners to use as they wish.

While we support the new alliance in its endeavors and its understanding that new events will help reinvent the north Ocean City area, allocating the fireworks savings does not make much sense. It’s a bizarre business model to spend the savings within a week of realizing them.

Nonetheless, saving money is critical in all facets of life these days and it’s our hope the council’s fireworks decision was a wise one.

We look forward, like everyone else, to finding out on the 4th of July if it was worth the risk.

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