By Joe Capozzi
Just in time for the Fourth of July, the Town Council passed a new law regulating fireworks displays in Briny Breezes.
The measure requires a town permit for any fireworks or pyrotechnical displays, along with liability insurance and a performance bond. The nonrefundable permit fee is $1,000.
The fireworks regulations are part of an ordinance banning the release of balloons and sky lanterns in town as a tool to protect the environment and reduce trash on beaches where sea turtles nest.
When Alderwoman Christina Adams proposed the anti-balloon ordinance, the council felt it made sense to add the fireworks regulations.
“It’s an important one for our environment,’’ Adams said after the council’s unanimous vote to approve the ordinance on second reading June 23. “Hopefully our neighboring towns will follow suit.’’
With the Fourth of July just around the corner, council President Sue Thaler suggested the corporation put out an email blast “telling people you can’t be setting off fireworks without a permit.’’
Asked if fireworks are a problem in Briny, Ocean Ridge Police Chief Richard Jones said: “We have never had any more of a problem than we have in Ocean Ridge. It is usually confined to holidays like the Fourth of July so it is somewhat expected. We ask that everyone in Briny obey the ordinance so that we are not required to conduct any enforcement action on a holiday.”
At a council workshop June 23, Briny’s sea wall replacement project dominated discussion of Town Manager William Thrasher’s budget proposal for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
Along with increased costs for police and fire services, the $1.4 million spending plan includes a new reserve fund of $200,479 for matching grant requirements and $30,000 for a sea-wall-funding lobbyist in Tallahassee.
Requests in the budget’s property fund include $20,000 for engineering services, up from $7,500 in the current budget, and $13,800 for legal services, up from $10,000.
Asked by Thaler about those increases, Thrasher didn’t offer specifics about the engineering services, but said the increases for legal services are related to the sea wall project.
“I think we’re going to run into some headwind in regards to how we approach contracts going forward, particularly in ’23 for the proposed sea wall enhancement project. I’d rather be on the high side than the low side,’’ he said.
Officials with Briny Breezes Corp. said they were uncomfortable with the town putting $200,000 in the reserve fund when shareholders are being asked to pay $207,600 for police and fire and $320,000 for water and sewer. Last year, the corporation paid $192,700 for police and fire and nearly $276,000 for water and sewer.
“If the town’s got more money, then the amount the corporation is deficit-funding the town should really come down,’’ said Michael Gallacher, the corporation’s general manager.
Thrasher said the sea wall project will cost millions and won’t happen without money from state and federal matching grants. A future council could reallocate the reserves for other uses if the grants for the sea wall don’t come through, he said. “You have to start somewhere,’’ he said. “If we don’t start now, we for sure won’t be in a position to match funds.’’
The budget will be discussed again at a workshop July 28. A meeting about the sea wall enhancement project will be held later this year, when more residents are in town, Thrasher said.