Archive for Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Nonprofit stands face competition

July 3, 2007

Even with help from City Hall, not-for-profit fireworks stands in Basehor continue to face stiff competition.

The yellow- and white-striped tent just north of Casey's General Store on 155th Street is home to the Basehor PRIDE, Kiwanis and Project Grad fireworks stand.

The PRIDE groups as well as Kiwanis rely on the sales from the not-for-profit stand to finance scholarships awarded to Basehor-Linwood High School seniors every year, while Project Grad uses proceeds to help pay for the drug- and alcohol-free postgraduation party for 2008 BLHS seniors.

However, sales have been down the past couple of years for the stand. Past PRIDE president George Smith told Basehor City Council members last October that sales at the stand were down 43 percent from 2004 and they believed it was because of competition from other stands within the city limits.

He asked the council to consider adopting an ordinance that only allowed not-for-profit organizations to sell fireworks in the city.

The city agreed at the time to research the issue and try to come up with a solution.

The city responded to PRIDE's request by first waiving the fireworks stand permit fee for the PRIDE, Kiwanis and Project Grad stand April 2, then approving an ordinance upping the permit fee from $50 to $500 May 21.

But, the ordinance seems to only be making a small difference.

City building inspector Mark Lee, who is in charge of issuing permits for fireworks stands, said the number of permits issued in the city this year was down one from 2006.

Managers from one of the for-profit stands in the city, Uncle Sam's Fireworks, said they could not comment on the issuance of the permit because it was something the owner of the company handled, but said the owner would not have purchased the permit if it was unreasonable. The company, based out of Lyndon, has 17 stands in the area, but this is its first year in Basehor.

"Since Basehor is growing, it seemed like it would be a good area for a stand," stand manager Monica Durkin said Monday afternoon.

While other not-for-profit stands are eligible to have the permit fee waived through council approval, another not-for-profit stand across the street from the Basehor PRIDE, Kiwanis and Project Grad stand opted out of the opportunity.

The stand run by the friends of co-ed Boy Scout crew 2052 out of Lawrence, Eudora and Baldwin decided to pay the $500 fee and begin selling over the weekend rather than wait for council approval to waive the fee Monday evening. The stand is one of many fundraisers the group has to help the crew pay for a trip to camp in New Mexico later this year.

The consensus from the other three stands was that sales had been pretty steady despite the rain and Durkin said she was even surprised at how many of the larger fireworks that don't usually sell until closer to the holiday had already sold Monday afternoon.

Last year's local not-for-profit stand only yielded $588, Smith said, prompting the push for a stricter permit ordinance. A final count of this year's profits later this week will determine whether the newly adopted ordinance paid off for the local groups.

"The biggest difference with our stand is that all the profits go back into the community," Runnels said.

The fireworks stands will be open until late tonight for any late purchases.

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