PORTLAND, Maine — Portland’s budget problems could cause the city to cancel its Fourth of July events.
The nonprofit group in charge of the Independence Day fireworks says they are having a hard time raising money for the show.
Mayor Ethan Strimling says the city can’t afford to chip in when it’s struggling with issues like school funding or social service programs.
“If we’re looking at firing elementary school teachers, I want to know what else there is [that can be cut],” Strimling told the Bangor Daily News during a broad discussion of his budget priorities Monday.
“Let’s pay for the Opportunity Crew and go raise money for fireworks,” he added.
Among other things, the mayor is calling for $45,000 in city spending in fiscal year 2019 for the Opportunity Crew, a program that offers city work to panhandlers. Strimling this week proposed a series of changes to City Manager Jon Jennings’ proposed $247 million 2019 budget.
The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the budget on May 14 with a final vote slated to take place on May 21.
The Fourth of July event is billed as privately funded, but city records show Portland taxpayers have spent more than $100,000 since 2015 on the fireworks show.
The annual Independence Day celebration draws tens of thousands of people to the peninsula.
BDN reporter Jake Bleiberg contributed to this report.
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.