The skies over Pickerington will light up this Fourth of July after all.

The skies over Pickerington will light up this Fourth of July after all.

Pickerington City Council voted 4-3 last week to partner with Violet Township for an Independence Day celebration and fireworks.

In doing so, council approved spending $24,000 for the festivities, which had been scrapped last December after council determined there wasn't enough money in the city's budget to hold the annual event featuring a parade, live entertainment and fireworks.

The city's share of the costs soon will be cut in half because Violet Township officials have agreed to donate $12,000 to help put on the celebration.

"The $24,000 total is the cost of entertainment. It's police overtime and everything," said Pickerington City Manager Tim Hansley. "The fireworks themselves are going to cost around $10,000."

Bill Yaple, the township's director of operations, confirmed that the township will contribute $12,000.

"We have partnered with Pickerington in other things and we felt it was the right thing to do," he said. "We sent a letter to the city back in December saying we have in the past and will continue to help fund the event."

Council's about-face came after Councilman Brian Sauer said in March he'd found areas in the city's 2009 budget where appropriated amounts weren't likely to be spent. He argued it appeared the city would spend anywhere from $400 to $3,000 less than was budgeted on everything from personnel training to legislative advertising, and suggested that money could be put toward the Fourth of July celebration.

Thus, Sauer said, the city could host the event by partnering with Violet Township, and without increasing the amount the city budgeted to spend this year.

"Last year, we spent over $28,000 (on the Fourth of July)," Sauer said Tuesday. "It's a community celebration of our country's birth. I think it's important."

Opposition to the plan came from council members Cristie Hammond, Keith Smith and Brian Wisniewski. They argued that any available money in the budget could be better spent on city services, such as code enforcement or clearing streets this winter.

"We could easily use that money for something else that would help the city out other than putting on a one-day event," Wisniewski said.

Pickerington resident Carol Carter, who last year unsuccessfully helped the city campaign for an income tax increase, also decried the move. She said the city should be especially frugal given the current economy.

"If you've got an extra $12,000, I'd advise you to hold onto it, not blow up pretty pictures in the sky," she said. "When you head back to that table to ask your residents for a little bit more money, they're going to know what you did."

Other council members, however, said the community has come to expect the Fourth of July celebration and is especially deserving of the event, given the economic difficulties residents have faced recently.

Councilman Mike Sabatino also said the opportunity to work positively with Violet Township can't be overlooked.

"It's a step in the right direction for the city and township collectively," he said.