Marion council reviews updated fireworks ordinance for 2017

The Marion City Council reviewed its revised fireworks ordinance at the Sept. 12 meeting after complaints about noise, curfew, injuries and littering on sidewalks and streets seemed worse than in previous years.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt and council members had direct­ed City Attorney Susan Robson to review the ordinance in August.

Robson said she redefined the number of days fireworks are allowed and changed the amount of insurance. The revision would state the certificates have minimum amounts of $1 million for property damage.

The city would be named as an additional insured.

The third change is optional, but under Section 6 of the ordinance, every application to sell fireworks would be accompanied by a check, cash or money order for $250 (formerly $200) as a license fee made out to the city.

Robson said no license would be issued until the payment is made, but if a license to sell is denied, the money would be returned to the applicant.

Robson said any part or all parts of the ordinance could be changed depending on what the council decides to do by consensus.

“We can change the classification of fireworks, or change the dates fireworks could be sold,” she said.

Councilor Melissa Mermis said it would mean having to do an amendment every year to change the times on July 3 from 9 a.m. to midnight.

Heitschmidt said: “We did do that every year (when I was first on the council). It was a mess. We had to get to it each year, and (July 3) would be a weekday or weekend.

“I am concerned being able to sell and shoot fireworks,” he added. “I’m not out to ruin a good tradition.”

Marion City Administrator Roger Holter said with surrounding communities having up to a seven-day sales window (to sell fireworks), there will be migration purchases and sales tax dollars leaving Marion.

Heitschmidt asked Robson about adding the hours 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. for July 1 and 2.

“I know a lot of towns, like Goddard, Galva, Cottonwood Falls, Herington and Abilene, that begin shooting fireworks off at 8 a.m. and don’t stop until 10 p.m.,” Robson said.

Councilor John Wheeler said he wasn’t sure about the four-day window.

“Cottonwood Falls allows for fireworks to be shot off June 27 through July 4 from 8 a.m. until midnight,” Robson said.

She added that Goddard also allows citizens to use fireworks during the same dates, but the timeframe differs by two hours at night.

“Newton starts shooting at 7 a.m. June 29 to July 4,” Robson said.

Another confusing issue about hanging the ordinance, Mermis said, fireworks stand is the flyers and the times people can legally shoot fireworks, how many days and what times of the day.

“We are looking for a concensus in the number of day for shooting fireworks, number of days selling fireworks, whether to keep application license fee the same in 2017 and possible insurance changes to correspond with other updates,” Robson said.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• asked for clarification on one part of the littering ordinance to make sure they didn’t have anything already in the code covering the topic of cleanup. Councilor Wheeler questioned the timeframe for cleanup, suggesting 24 hours instead of 12 hours, the current number allowed. It was approved to amend the language from 12 to 24 hours to allow for cleanup. The vote was 3-1 with Heitschmidt dissenting.

• City Clerk Tiffany Jeffrey reviewed the city’s records retention policy. She said they haven’t been updated for many years.

“Changes were made to reflect the IRS, state and historical society’s regulations,” she said.

The records retention policy was approved 4-0.

• Heitschmidt and Mermis volunteered to be the designated and alternate delegate at the League of Kan­sas Municipalities fall convention. The vote was 4-0.