Pixabay/Longport plans fireworks display on Labor Day.

LONGPORT – The borough’s Library Board, which boasts a mission to “enrich the educational, recreational and informational needs of the community,” has denied the Board of Commissioners’ request to help fund the Labor Day weekend fireworks display.

Unlike other municipalities that fund 4th of July fireworks displays as part of their operating budgets, in Longport, residents have contributed the $12,200 needed to fund the fireworks display on Labor Day weekend.

However, fundraising was not successful this year in raising the entire amount needed to fund the display. Mayor Nicholas Russo said he received several contributions – $5,000 from a resident, $1,000 from the Volunteer Fire Department and $100 from Commissioner Jim Leeds – and at the last Board of Commissioners meeting obtained approval to ask the borough’s Public Library to fund the remaining $6,100.

The Library Board held a special meeting Thursday, July 28 and according to board member Damen Tomassi, voted 4-4 to deny the funding request.

“It’s disappointing that the library, which has a mission to fund educational and recreational programs, refused to fund $6,100 for an event that would provide entertainment for tons of people, while they fund up to $10,000 for author visits for much smaller groups,” he said. “So many more people would enjoy the fireworks.”

Tomassi said he is willing to coordinate donations from residents to ensure the display can be held.

Russo, who attended the meeting to present information about the request, said he was disappointed with the decision.

“I thought it would be a good match for the board,” Russo said.

The library was formed in 2017 after the municipality withdrew from the Atlantic County Library System.

State law requires municipalities to fund their public libraries at a tax rate of $.003 annually. The library board is required to keep any unallocated funds for eight years after its initial formation. At the end of the eight-year period, the municipality can decide what to do with the unspent taxes.

This year, the minimum library tax was $703,366, 8.94% higher than 2021 due to an increase in the borough’s total assessed valuation. The municipality charges the library a municipal services fee of $50,000 for utilities, some administrative services and use of borough equipment. According to Library Director Richard Gerhardt, the library board has a line item this year totaling $156,000 that has not been allocated for any specific purpose.

Russo said he would have borough Administrator A. Scott Porter and CFO Jenna Kelly look at the municipal budget to see if some funds could be used for the fireworks so the date can be reserved with the contractor. An initial look at the municipal budget revealed there is a limited amount of funding in the recreation line item that could be used, but the borough would still be short of the amount needed, Russo said. Meanwhile, he encouraged Tomassi to lead the fundraising effort.

“I’m sure once people know about the need, they will come to the plate,” Russo said.

He is confident the display will be held this year, but moving forward, Russo said he is considering a different date for the end-of-summer celebration and establishing a stable funding mechanism.

“I like the idea of doing an Ides of August display, because the end of August is always iffy,” Russo said. “Also, some of our families who come here for the summer are back at their primary homes by Labor Day.”

The Volunteer Fire Department coordinates all the permits needed to conduct the display.

“Going forward, we need to find a better way. Things change over time, and we have to change with it,” Russo said.

Anyone interested in supporting the effort is encouraged to contact Damen Tomassi at or call 609-287-2918.


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Categories: Longport

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.