Kamiah police have decided to let fireworks offenses be complaint driven rather than seeking out offenders.
The issue has become a hot topic statewide, as a recent opinion from the Attorney General’s Office has labeled the purchasing, using, or even possessing aerial fireworks is illegal unless the person has a license to use them for public display or if it involves tribal land.
Kamiah leaders along with Fire Chief Dan Musgrave and Chief Marshal Kirt Gaston discussed the topic at a regular city council meeting June 28.
Mayor Dale Schneider noted that neighboring Kooskia posted signs warning people that fireworks are not allowed.
“They are illegal in the state of Idaho,” said Musgrave about aerial fireworks. “It is ticketable. As far as I’m concerned, I would just as soon ban any fireworks in the city of Kamiah. If we do that we’re going to definitely hear about it.”
Schneider said it was too late for the city to pass a law about the fireworks for this year.
Gaston said there has been a loophole in state law that allowed people to buy illegal fireworks in the state but they could not let them off in the state. He said the loophole has been done away.
“You can’t possess them,” added Musgrave.
“In the past what we’ve done is allow it to be complaint driven. We have no problem going out telling people to not let them off,” said Gaston. “If it leaves the ground and goes boom, any type of explosion, it’s illegal.
“If they start a fire, they are going to get cited whether it’s complaint driven or not,” he added.
Musgrave and Gaston said fireworks were already being let off and get progressively worse toward the Fourth, usually continuing until about July 10.
Gaston said he would do whatever the council directed on the issue.
“It’s a problem every year,” said Schneider. “How many fires have been started in Kamiah due to fireworks?” asked Schneider.
Musgrave said it varies from none to four or five a year. “A lot of them we don’t even hear about until next day or something because the people who start them put them out.”
Councilor Dan Millward thought it was a good idea by Gaston to wait until there was a problem with fireworks and then address it.
In other business:
The paving of trench lines where new water lines were placed has been completed. The city hopes to schedule Poe Asphalt this summer to repair cracks and potholes.
Council approved Barry Machado to the Planning and Zoning Committee.
Amy Wimer expressed concern that the city is failing to provide needed services, particularly for children. “I feel the city is failing. It’s failing bad. We have nothing and nothing for the kids.”
She said places like Riggins, which implements a sales tax, and Potlatch, which uses a recreation district tax, are able to do much more.
“It doesn’t just hit the property tax owners who are taxed to death,” she said about the sales tax. “The city tax would hit tourists. We could have an influx to get our pool up and running, to possibly have a skate park or update some things in our city park. It could also be used for street maintenance and paving.”
“About 10 years ago we looked into it,” said Schneider. “We were told we could not do it because we weren’t considered a tourist town because we didn’t do enough business.”
Wimer said Grangeville, Kooskia and Kamiah qualify for such designation.
Schneider said there are 13 cities in Idaho that have now implemented a resort tax. He thought there were only three cities implementing that tax 10 years ago.
He said CEDA was looking into the issue to see if Kamiah could qualify.
“You may remember we tried to get a recreation district years ago. It passed in Kamiah but the outlying area outvoted us so it failed,” said Schneider.
The council supported her efforts to further research the issues.
The Chamber of Commerce is working on bids for fixing the stage at Riverfront Park.
“I don’t think we should have the attitude it belongs to the chamber and we shouldn’t do anything,” said Schneider.
Councilor Dan Millward thought a maintenance plan should be composed and implemented regarding the barbecue pit. The council gave permission for him to work on such a plan.