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Fireworks Firm Reports Increase in Returns to Culver Service Groups

October 02, 1986|JEFF BURBANK | Times Staff Writer

Only a month before Culver City voters are to decide whether to allow fireworks in the city, the city treasurer has released figures indicating that Red Devil Fireworks turned over nearly twice as much money this year as it did last year to community service groups.

Ten nonprofit organizations received a total of $49,000, or 9.5%, of $511,822 in revenue after taxes from Red Devil Fireworks stands, according to reports filed with the city by Red Devil.

Last year, the groups received about $25,000, or 5.2%, of $480,000 in revenue after taxes, according to a Red Devil spokesman.

Spokesmen for the organizations said they were pleased with the allocation but critics raised questions.

These figures "must be looked upon with great suspicion considering the fact there is an election pending that will have an outcome on the sale of fireworks," said Councilman Paul A. Jacobs, a co-chairman of the No on Fireworks Committee,

Voters next month will decide the fate of fireworks in Culver City. The question appears on the Nov. 4 ballot as Proposition K. If it passes, sales would continue in the city.

But Red Devil "did not jack up the figures or make a profit just because this is an election year," said Fred Brookins, the company's sales coordinator for Culver City. He said the allocations were increased because profits went up.

Red Devil recorded its best sales in 15 years, according to Brookins, who heads Bishop Fireworks Co., which is owned by Red Devil's parent company, Pyrotronics Corp. of Anaheim.

Brookins said Bishop cut costs this year by storing the prefabricated fireworks stands closer to Culver City and by working out arrangements with Red Devil to buy the fireworks at a lower price and to return unsold merchandise for credit.

Bishop Fireworks ran the fireworks stands this year for 10 veterans' and other nonprofit groups chosen in a city lottery in June.

Bishop employees handled all of the paper work, paid the fees, supplied the fireworks, set up the stands, did all the selling and bookkeeping and reported the results to city officials.

This sales arrangement made two decades ago by the Culver City groups is unusual. Other cities that permit fireworks sales deal with two or more fireworks companies. The companies often allow the groups to run the stands themselves and keep up to 40% of the gross proceeds.

Members of the nonprofit groups in Culver City say it is more convenient to allow Bishop to run the stands. They said the company puts up the $2,600 in city fees required in advance for each stand. The company later subtracts the fee amount from the profits.

This year, each group received 9.5% of its stand's revenues after taxes. The allocations included: Boy Scout Troop 113, $3,337.02; Culver Palms Y's Men Club, $3,788.17; Disabled American Veterans Post 123, $5,439.05, and Disabled American Veterans Ladies Auxiliary 123, $3,222.75.

Members of the Culver City Veterans Coordinating Council pooled the sales of six stands: American Legion Auxiliary 46, Jewish War Veterans Post 667, Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary 667, Culver Palms Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1476, Culver Palms Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary 1476, Canadian Legion Post 143. Their allocation was $33,220.95

Harold Sikoff of the Disabled American Veterans post said this year's sales were the best in five years. His stand took in more than $56,000, compared to $36,000 in 1985. The group received a check for $5,439.

"That was a lot more money than we got in the past. I was so surprised I almost fell over," Sikoff said. "I couldn't believe it was possible to receive so much money."

Sikoff attributed the higher sales to a prime location near the Culver Shopping Center.

Kenneth Smith, treasurer of the Culver Palms Y's Men Club, said he was satisfied with the $3,788 his group received this year. It made $2,500 in 1984 when the group last sold fireworks.

Smith, husband of council member Jozelle Smith, said his organization likes fireworks sales because it is a fund-raising activity that involves no investment and no manpower of its own.

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