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Fireworks Sales Generate Economic Returns For Some Metro Communities

Anthony Cramp

For municipalities that allow fireworks sales, July 4 is a way to rake in the revenue.

Let's start with the cost of doing business.

"The permit fee for a fireworks tent is $1,000," says Spring Hill, Kan., city administrator Jonathan Roberts.

Fireworks are banned in most of Johnson County. But in recent years, Spring Hill, De Soto and Edgerton have decided to allow fireworks within city limits.

"It's tough to control people using fireworks," says Roberts. "People are going to use them. So why not look at the situation and try to create some parameters? If there's some revenue that can be made by the local community and the municipality, that's even better."

The Kansas Department of Revenue doesn't track how much revenue fireworks sales bring in – only for-profit tents have to charge sales tax – but Roberts sees some intangible benefits to allowing sales within city limits. Call it "fireworks tourism." Because only a few cities in Johnson County allow residents to use fireworks, they become a destination during the July 4 holiday.

"We've actually seen more family get-togethers in town where family members come here from other communities to do their Fourth of July celebrations," Roberts says.

For non-profits, fireworks tents are a major fundraiser

Blue Springs, Mo., takes a different approach to fireworks sales. Permits are less expensive – $275 – and only non-profit organizations can apply.

"They have to tell us how they're planning on donating or spending their revenues," says Tina Dale, the city's revenue collections supervisor.

She says there are organizations that do all of their fundraising for the year in four days of fireworks sales.

It's a brisk business – last year, 15 tents sold nearly $450,000 in fireworks. For most non-profits, Dale says the profit margin is anywhere from 45 to 60 percent.

Statewide, Missouri has issued some 1,200 seasonal fireworks retailers permits this year. 

'People are fairly respectful' of fireworks rules

For cities that sell fireworks, safety is still key.

Roberts says Spring Hill spends the weeks before July 4 distributing brochures promoting the safe use of fireworks and making sure residents know the guidelines.

The city has a fireworks curfew of 11 p.m.

"We've found people are fairly respectful of that," he says. "You don't have fireworks going off at 2 or 3 in the morning."

Before kicking off your July 4 celebration with fireworks, be sure to check your local ordinances – they're banned in Kansas City, Mo., and many other communities throughout the metro.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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