City council delays fireworks vote until 2010
“We’re electioned-out,” Bonham said. “If we wait till the regular municipal election, which will be the governor’s election, all of the state-wide policy issues, clearing congress, legislature, senators, city council, at that point in time, your likely to get 55 percent (of the voting population) or more.
He said that by doing that, the city would get a better representation of what the public has to say about the issue. He said that at this time of year, the city would be lucky to get 15-20 percent of the voters turning out.
“If you’re going to spend the money, you’re better off spending at the regularly scheduled, municipal election, 551 days from now,” Bonham said.
Since the ban is currently not in effect, the council said that for the time being, the council would go back to how it used to deal with firework around the Fourth of July. Susanville Fire Department Chief Stu Ratner would assess the fire danger of the season and determine what days fireworks will be prohibited in the city limits.
Bonham also said a levee or a tax should be attached to the ballot initiative if it were to pass, to pay for the cleanup and enforcement during the Fourth of July weekend.
City Attorney Peter Talia collected cost estimates from the Susanville Police Department, the SFD, The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, The Susan River Fire Protection District and the city’s public works department for maintaining and cleaning up the city during the Fourth of July Weekend. Talia estimated it regularly cost $11,000-$13,000, not including the help from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office.
Bonham said the fee for cleanup and enforcement costs wouldn’t necessarily be something fixed on to the fireworks ordinance in the election, but simply another item to vote on during the election.
The city council originally passed the ordinance banning the sales and use of fireworks in the city at its Sept. 3 meeting. It was forced to rescind the ordinance after the signatures of more than 700 registered voters in the city were collected in a petition asking the council to either put it to election or get rid of the ordinance.
Councilmember Lino Callegari said he still felt it was the council’s duty to stand by its experts, such as the case with Ratner and the assessment of fire danger during the summer months.
“The full control on the use of fireworks, as I see it today is Mr. Stu Ratner, because the emergency aspects of this entire situation are going to rest on this man’s shoulders,” Callegari said. “So I think we need to be fair to the people and tell them, ‘hey, it’s a cost effective mess that we’re looking at.’ We’re not trying to degrade what they (the people who signed the petition) have done. They’ve done their job according to the process. But in order to have the election, we need to look at what is more viable for this community cost wise. We are going to put in on the ballot because of cost reasons, and that’s the only reason.”
The city council meets at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday at 66 North Lassen St. Its next meeting will be on Wednesday, Dec. 17.
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