, Newburyport, MA

April 24, 2014

License for fireworks stores could increase

Selectmen consider raising annual fee to $7,500


---- — SEABROOK — The privilege of selling class C fireworks in town could soon get a lot pricier, as selectmen consider raising the cost of a related license by 50 percent, bringing the annual fee up to $7,500.

For the past five or six years, the half-dozen stores that sell class C fireworks in town have paid a hefty $5,000 a year for their licenses. The high price is allowed by state law and represents the burden such stores can place on a community in the way of inspection and emergency services, given the potential hazards involved.

Seabrook is one of a few communities in New Hampshire and New England that allow class C fireworks to be sold. Its proximity to the Massachusetts border, where the sale of such items is unlawful, makes the town and its fireworks stores popular venues, especially during the summer.

But at their last meeting, the renewal of Phantom Fireworks’ license caused selectmen to review of the related fee structure.

Town Manager Bill Manzi suggested that if a public hearing was not necessary, the board should approve the license but with a $2,500 increase in the fee, bringing it up to $7,500.

While none of the selectmen appeared to balk at the hike in price, whether there is a need for a public hearing remained unanswered.

The board decided to table for two weeks its vote on the fee increase while Manzi investigates whether one is required before the price goes up. As a result, the vote on the approval of Phantom’s license was also tabled.

If and when the fee increase is approved, Seabrook will generate $45,000 a year from licensing its six fireworks establishments this year, instead of the $30,000 it raised last year.