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INSURANCE ISSUES MAY CANCEL FIREWORKS DISPLAY 6-19-13 LMS

The Salmon City Council has voted to go ahead with a July 3rd regular meeting and has decided the city will not assume sponsorship of the July 4th fireworks display.

Dr. Richard Natelson is willing to arrange and set up the annual display however he has asked the city for a letter of support to proceed with the fireworks show and to cover his liability insurance. City Clerk Mary Benton told the council she contacted the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP), the city’s insurance carrier, and was told the city insurance would not cover Natelson.

If certain specifications were to be met the city’s insurance would cover liability for a fireworks event, only if the city is the sole sponsor. Benton said she was told if the doctor were to buy liability insurance for himself the cost would be around $800 and it would cost $3500 for him to purchase event liability insurance.

The Fourth of July fireworks display has always been a Salmon Valley Chamber of Commerce event to which the city contributes. Chamber Executive Director Charleane Hermosillo told the council the Chamber cannot cover Natelson under its insurance. She said the organization has insurance that will cover spectators at Chamber sponsored events but does not have liability coverage for fireworks shows and there is no way for a non-profit organization to buy it. Hermosillo suggested that since ICRMP is the only company that would provide liability insurance for the fireworks show, if the city took over sole sponsorship of the event, the Chamber could donate $3,000 to the city from the Fireworks Trust Fund set up for the Chamber by Gary Anderson. The city could then add its usual $1500 donation and be able to purchase the necessary event liability insurance through ICRMP.

City Finance Director Amy Fealko said, “I guess my concern is, if the city covered them and there’s a claim, we’re going to be paying on that. We’re not going to be just paying the premium we’re going to be paying for a long time.”

Councilman Jim Baker said the risk of liability issues connected to fireworks displays is why so many cities no longer have such shows and he didn’t think sponsorship of one was a wise direction for the city to take. City Attorney Fred Snook commented that if something injurious were to happen, both the person in charge of the fireworks and the city could be sued.

In answer to a question from Councilman Jesse Bender, Hermosillo said Natelson is about 80 percent finished with show preparations and could be ready to go in time for the 4th of July event if the insurance issues are resolved.

Baker made a motion that the city contribute $1500 towards the fireworks display but not sponsor the event insurance.

The motion passed on a vote of five to one with Ken Hill casting the one ‘no’ vote.


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