Toms River mayor allegedly threatens to cut business district funding unless 10 fireworks shows are added this summer

TRBID chairman Bob Shea says in the 22 years of the history of the organization, no administration has ever withheld its annual budget from its agenda – until now.

Jim Murdoch

Mar 6, 2024, 10:51 PM

Updated 48 days ago

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There are some “fireworks” in Toms River over proposed fireworks shows. Mayor Dan Rodrick allegedly threatened to cut the downtown business improvement district if 10 fireworks shows are not added to the Toms River Business Improvement District’s budget.
TRBID chairman Bob Shea says in the 22 years of the history of the organization, no administration has ever withheld its annual budget from its agenda – until now.
“The end effect of that, if that $70,000 is taken out of the operating budget, it would eliminate jobs and eliminate many of the events that we currently have on course,” said Shea.
The BID is slated to organize 68 downtown events this year, from farmers’ markets to festivals, on an operating budget of $286,000.
“I feel it’s a good idea maybe to have one or two in the summer but not to have them every Friday night for five minutes – it will accomplish nothing,” said Toms River Councilman Dave Ciccozzi.
According to the board, mayor Dan Rodrick requested 10 Friday night fireworks shows from Huddy Park – at a cost of $70,000 – but BID board members say that would realistically cost $126,000, forcing them to cut positions and other scheduled events.
Business owners tell News 12 the BID is essential to their downtown success.
“In the last 10-15 years, vacancies have dropped, crime rate has dropped, it’s safer on the streets, less trash on the streets and that is all because of the BID,” said Matt Lotano, a business owner and former township council president.
“The BID to me, is the first place I came as a new business owner downtown. I was invited to stay for a meeting – it is the hub of so much going on in Ocean County,” said Mike Hovance, owner of Perfect Swing Golf.
The BID board met on Wednesday and voted to keep their original budget, without the fireworks expenses. If the mayor and council do not respond by posting the agenda at the next meeting, Shea says, this could end up in court.
“If it doesn’t happen, we will have to look at other remedies. Legal challenges? Yep. That’s one of the alternatives,” he said.
News 12 stopped by the mayor's office for comment and spoke in person with the Toms River business administrator. He did not comment on the actions of the BID board, instead, he criticized the way News 12 presented the mayor's exclusive interview last month. He did take a message for Rodrick.


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