Every year, the same requests come in to the Columbia County Commission: Various local groups want the county to help pay for fireworks displays.
The bulk of the requests usually focus on July 4, when there are several shows in the area. Columbia County does one at Patriots Park and there are a couple at the lake the county has helped pay for in the past.
This year, local leaders are helping pay for their fireworks display at Patriots Park, and other displays at the Lake Springs and Little River areas on Clarks Hill. Each event will get $2,500, said County Administrator Steve Szablewski.
But that could change starting next year. Officials are working on a fireworks policy - specific stipulations requests would have to meet in order to receive county money.
At the center of a draft of the policy is a requirement that Columbia County staff members help plan and monitor the finances of the event.
"We want to make sure our money is being spent on fireworks," said Community Services Director Barry Smith. "(Currently) We issue the check and we're never sure what exactly the money is spent on."
It's that current lack of fiscal oversight that concerned Commission Chairman Ron Cross.
"I don't think that's very proper to give public money and not really know exactly what you are doing," he said.
Another requirement of the draft policy is the event must be free of charge to the public.
Commission Vice Chairman Tom Mercer said he thinks the county should support one event at the lake annually.
"We've got a lot of people in the county that boat," he said. "They look forward to going up to the lake and seeing the fireworks."
But he also knows that people enjoy the annual show at Patriots Park.
"I think we need to take care of both of those groups," he said.
Officials hope to have a version of the policy ready to present to county commissioners on June 17.
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