Fireworks referendum gets plenty of signatures
The group had until Oct. 3 to collect at least 428 votes, which County Clerk Julie Bustamante said represented about 10 percent of the registered voters within the city. City Attorney Peter Talia said more than 700 signatures were submitted on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
On Wednesday, Oct 1, city clerk Debra Magginetti had started the process of verifying the more than 700 signatures collected Once all the signatures have been verified, then Talia said city staff would present the petition to the city council, most likely at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 15.
Talia said it would then be up to the council on whether they get rid of the fireworks ordinance entirely or put it to a vote in an upcoming election. For the ordinance to come into effect, it would have to pass by a majority vote, or at least 50 percent plus one.
Talia seemed optimistic the council would make right decision about letting the ordinance g to an election.
“We have a very wise council,” Talia said. “I’m sure they’ll give it (the ordinance) researched discussion before they decide what they want to do.”
One person who wants to see the fireworks ban disappear is Kristine Duncan, who works with the Susanville Assembly of God Women’s Ministries. Duncan was one of the people who delivered the petition and she has helped run the Women’s Ministries booth for the last few years. She said the booth has been running for as long as she can remember, which is more than 20 years. She said it’s the primary source of income for the women’s ministries as well.
“Our group was one of the main pushers of getting this petition done,” Duncan said.
Duncan explained how at the end of the council meeting where the ordinance was first introduced, representatives from TNT Fireworks, Inc. advised a number of the groups in opposition to the ban on what their next moves could be. Duncan said that’s how the idea of the petition first took shape.
Duncan said the women’s ministries has started looking into other funding streams in case the referendum fails, but she is hoping it doesn’t have to come to that.
“It will be very hard, no matter what we choose to do,” Duncan said. “to bring the kind of funds we did just with fireworks. We might come up with other things to raise money at the fair. The last resort is old ladies out there washing cars, but we’ll work on it.”
Duncan said she understands the city’s safety concerns because in law enforcement and fire prevention. However, she said she felt the majority of the people living within the city are pretty level headed, and use fireworks in a safe manner. She said while it might be difficult to catch the people who use the fireworks illegally it isn’t impossible. She said she believed in a compromise through the use of other city ordinances designed to punish people using fireworks illegally.
According to Magginetti and Talia’s report at the Sept. 17 council meeting, the city may submit any number of proposed ordinances at the same election. Talia told the council that if the election does indeed go through, it might be possible to attach an ordinance for a parcel tax of somewhere between $15 to $20 a parcel to recoup city costs for overtime paid to firefighters and police officers, along with costs associated with the ensuing cleanup of fireworks.
“Frankly, I think the best thing to do is to keep it very clean,” Talia said later. “Ultimately, that decision is up to the council, and I will pursue it if that’s its direction. But I think it’s either going to be a rescinding or an election though.”
If the referendum results in an election, Talia said it would cost the city $30,000 to $40,000 if it was a special, stand-alone election. Talia estimated it would cost roughly half that if the city could attach it to an existing election.
As of right now, fireworks are still legal in the city limits. Until the referendum is dealt with, either by election or cancellation, fireworks will remain legal.
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