CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y.-- A long standing holiday tradition will not take place in the Town of Cheektowaga this year.
There will be no fireworks at Cheektowaga Town Park this 4th of July. Three members of the town board blame it on overtime cutbacks in the town's budget.
Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski told 2 On Your Side last week the organization that has run the festivities over the years, the Cheektowaga Patriotic Commission, has disbanded and so far, no one else has come forward to fill that void.
But on Wednesday, Councilmembers James Rogowski, Gerald Kaminski and Alice Magierski released a statement saying all departments in the town were asked to cut their overtime by 5% during the town's 2017 budget process.
They say the 4th of July fireworks were eliminated because the town did not have enough police personnel and other staff available for the celebration. They encourage residents who would like to see the fireworks return for next year to reach out to the Board in time to discuss the matter for the 2018 budget.
"Please understand that the lack of this year's 4th of July fireworks was in no way the fault of the Chief of Police, the Police Department, the Facilities Department or the Patriotic Commission," said the statement. "This was strictly a decision made by the Town Board for the purpose of saving taxpayers' money."
Supervisor Benczkowski says other holiday events will still go on, including food trucks and a concert by country artist Ricky Lee on July 3rd sponsored by State Assembly-woman Monica Wallace. The town's annual parade will be at noon on July 4 down Walden Avenue.
"I've lived here all my life and I was very saddened we found out at the end of December that the patriotic commission who always ran the July Fourth festivities disbanded," she said.
2 On Your Side's Jeff Preval spoke by phone with a current member of the commission. He didn't want to be named and took issue with the word disbanded and says the commission still exists, it's just not active because many of its members are not available to perform their duties.
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