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Second reading on fireworks ordinance rejected
July 14, 2017

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On Monday evening the Rugby City Council rejected by a 5-1 vote a second reading of an ordinance that would have made changes to city codes regarding fireworks sale and use.

Were the second reading approved, Ordinance No. 405 would have made the following changes to Chapter 9.36 of the city's Municipal Code:

Changed the permitted hours of use leading up to the July 4 holiday as follows: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. June 27 through July 2; 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m on July 3; 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on July 4; and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 5.

Changed the application deadline for special events that have fireworks displays from 10 days in advance to 30.

Changed the fine for persons violating Chapter 9.36. Originally fines range from no less than $10 to no more than $50, but the ordinance would've changed the fines from no less than $100 to no more than $500.

Vendors would apply for permits by May 1 and pay a $50 application fee.

Sale and storage locations would be disclosed on permit applications and would be subject to inspection with vendor consent. Failure to consent would result in forfeiture of permits the next year.

Vendors who violate permit conditions would be subject to a $150 fine for the first offense, $300 for the second offense, and $500 plus a three-year suspension of permits for the third.

Ward 1 Councilman Neil Lotvedt said he received complaints about the time change on July 4 and would rather have the times at 1 a.m. Ward 4 Councilwoman Sue Steinke said that Ward 1 Councilman Bruce Allen Rheault and Ward 2 Councilman Randy Fossum were both in favor of the time change, however she originally wanted to "split the baby in half" and go to 12:30 a.m. each night.

Ward 2 Councilman Gary Kraft reiterated a previous statement that he thought changing the times of use to earlier hours was a "kneejerk" reaction.

Lotvedt agreed that some kinds of fireworks are loud, however he questioned at what point would changing times of permitted use for anything end.

Rugby Police Chief John Rose said his department had received some noise complaints but the volume of complaints received wasn't bad this year.

City Attorney Bill Hartl questioned the time change as well, asking Rose if the times were changed would Rose and his department receive more complaints.

"I'd say yes," Rose said.

Lotvedt originally moved to accept the ordinance but change the time back to 1 a.m. Hartl said that in order to do that, the ordinance would have to be changed again and then go through publication and first and second readings.

"We can go around and around on that," Kraft said.

Lotvedt then motioned to reject the second reading. Rheault was the only no vote on the rejection.

Fossum and Ward 4 Councilman Chuck Longie were both absent for the meeting.

(sub.) Public Works hiring discussed

With the retirement of one employee and the resignation of another at the city's Public Works department, two questions arose: Should the city hire a fifth employee? Or should the city cut back from six Public Works employees to four?

During a Public Works committee meeting on June 21, Ward 3 Councilman and committee member Tim Bartsch, Sr., asked Street & Sewer Supervisor Troy Munyer to put a list together of work for the next three months to determine whether a fifth employee would be needed. Munyer said the city needed to weigh either hiring a fifth person or overtime for the other employees.

Kraft said he thought there should be a fifth employee.

Bartsch, however, pushed for any alternatives that could be made.

A comparison was made regarding Public Works overtime with that of the Rugby Police Department.

"Don't get the police department into this," said Rose. "To compare city departments, it's apples and oranges."

Steinke questioned whether a fifth employee would be needed all the time. Water Plant Supervisor Greg Boucher said the biggest need for a fifth employee would be for winter snow removal.

"I shouldn't be on the streets, I should be at the water plant more," Boucher said. "Somebody's got to start it."

(sub.) Other actions

The council approved a recommendation from the Public Works committee to begin the process of removing fluoride from the city's water treatment process, as it is damaging equipment at the water treatment plant.

The council approved recommendations from the Finance committee to allow the Rugby Police Department to purchase new car and body cameras for $14,435, and to rent the office areas in the Armory previously occupied by the National Guard to the Rugby Public School at a rate of $3,000 per year.

The council approved abatement applications for Joe Ramaden and for Gary, Kathy and Kevin Kirchofner.

The council approved a raffle permit request for the Rugby Dollars for Scholars chapter.

The council accepted a high bid of $871 for a 2003 Dodge Durango.

The council approved June meeting minutes, bills and financial statements, Municipal Judge's report and Rugby Job Development Authority board meeting minutes.

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