Fireworks fizzle: Budget woes, construction extinguish Turlock’s Fourth of July show

Fireworks thrill in Turlock

Hundreds of people come out to watch fireworks display at Stanislaus State
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Hundreds of people come out to watch fireworks display at Stanislaus State

There will be no fireworks show at Stanislaus State University this Fourth of July, a free community event that drew about 10,000 spectators during the last holiday.

The university and city of Turlock said in a news release Wednesday they canceled the event because of each organization’s limited financial resources and major construction projects underway on the Turlock campus.

Stanislaus State and Turlock put on the event, which cost them more than $90,000, according to the news release. They used the city’s transient occupancy tax — it’s what motel and hotel guests pay — and sponsorships to fund the show.

Turlock is facing significant challenges with its roughly $42 million general fund budget, which primarily pays for public safety and other basics. The city is using reserves to balance the budget.

“As the city navigates an anticipated $3.1 million structural deficit (in the general fund), it is necessary to prioritize our expenditures with a focus on core services to the community,” City Manager Bob Lawton said in a news release.

The university has used discretionary funding, which does not include student tuition, to cover its costs, said Rosalee Rush, senior associate vice president, communications and public affairs.

“We need to make sure we can be good stewards of those funds and (use) those dollars to meet the needs of students first,” she said in an interview.

Rush said the fireworks show had been held on campus in previous years and, according to the city, returned in 2016. She said last year’s show drew about 10,000 people.

Rush said the campus is in the midst of major construction projects, including the renovation and expansion of the former University Student Union Building into a new Student Center. She said that limits the campus’s ability to hold large events.

The news release said the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association will hold its annual Fourth of July parade and car show starting 10 a.m. on Main Street.