The council may revisit the amount of the fines and penalties, depending on what Clark County Council decides later this year
BATTLE GROUND — Two weeks after the city of Battle Ground passed its first-ever restrictions on fireworks use, members of the city council on Monday night attempted to add some teeth to the new rules.
At its last meeting, a divided council cut by half the number of days fireworks could be bought and used in the city. Starting in 2019, fireworks can be sold from July 1-4, and used only on the 3rd and 4th. Currently, they can both be sold and used from June 28-July 5.
Monday night the members of the council voted 6-to-1 to add fines for violators, and allow police officers to issue citations in addition to the Fire Marshal’s office.
“Historically, law enforcement has always been involved in the enforcement of your code,” City Attorney Chris Long told the council, “so this just makes it clear that the police department, in addition to the fire marshal, is authorized.”
Fines for getting caught lighting off fireworks outside of legal times will start at $100, then go up to $250 for a second violation, with a maximum of $500 for subsequent violations.
“The reason that we went to $100 is we could actually issue those,” said Fire Marshal Chris Drone, “like a honeymoon period. People aren’t used to this new ordinance, right? So at least in staff’s opinion it wouldn’t be prudent to hit them with $250 or $500 fines right off the bat. In years to come, that might be the appropriate time in my opinion to look at increasing those, after looking at what the county has done.”
The Clark County Council is considering adopting its own new rules regarding fireworks, which are expected to mirror Battle Ground’s restrictions, and bring the entire county into alignment with the current rules north of 219th Street.
Deputy Mayor Shane Bowman was one of three council members to say they would prefer to hold off when it comes to setting fines until after the county acts. “Because if the county says it’s a thousand dollars, and it’s a hundred bucks here, I’m gonna go to Battle Ground to light off fireworks if I knew that there was a difference of that much.”
Ultimately the only council member to vote against the ordinance was former mayor Philip Johnson, who has been one of the only people to say that, while his money doesn’t go towards “Chinese smoke,’’ he has no problem with other people using fireworks.
While the new rules around when people can buy and use fireworks in Battle Ground won’t start until next year, the new fines will take effect within 30 days. That means anyone lighting off fireworks after the fifth of July could be penalized, but it’s unlikely the new rules will be strictly enforced so soon after being adopted.
The council also on Monday voted not to move ahead with crack sealing and slurry sealing a number of roads around the city as they have done the last four years. Council members raised concerns the city wasn’t getting the best deal for the work, and asked staff to get new bids on the work before moving ahead.
Battle Ground is also reversing course on a decision made 10 years ago to move from an annual budget to a biennial one. After a recent examination, city staff and auditors determined dealing with budgetary concerns more “real time” would allow the city to more quickly adjust to needs, while also engaging in more long-term planning, especially as they deal with a growing backlog of streets in need of repair and transportation projects around town.