Make no mistake, the ban on fireworks in the city of Missoula will be strictly enforced, perhaps for the first time in many years, on this coming Fourth of July holiday.

Ward one councilman Dave Strohmaier said Tuesday evening that to his recollection, city police and fire authorities did not issue a single citation or levy a fine on Independence Day 2012.

"I believe last year, if I'm not mistaken, there was not a single citation issued," Strohmaier said. " When we questioned the police department following the 4th of July holiday, the response that the council received was that at some point in the past, the city council was ambivalent about this whole issue, and because of those mixed signals that the administration was receiving from the council, a decision was made to not rigorously enforce our ordinance."

Strohmaier said that situation would be remedied in 2013.

"We did more clearly delineate the fine, so no longer is it a fine of up to $500 bucks, it's now clearly $100 bucks for the first offense, and $300 for subsequent offenses," Strohmaier said. "We also cleaned up the wording of the ordinance to bring it into compliance with state law."

Strohmaier said the resources to effective enforce the ban will be in place in time for the Independence Day holiday.

"At a previous meeting, we directed the administration to allocate sufficient resources to enforce our ordinance," Strohmaier said. "About $15,000 of overtime has been approved for police and fire departments to do a better job than they have in the past."

Strohmaier admitted that enforcement in the past has been poorly funded and supported, but the council has decided that time is past.

"We have not allocated additional dollars or staff to the effort in past years, at least as long as I've been on council," Strohmaier said. "Now, hopefully, folks will have a little more peace of mind than maybe they've had in the past."

Strohmaier was careful to say that the council is not discouraging the celebration of America's independence.

"This is not meant to be unpatriotic or anything of that nature, its simply meant to address some quality of life concerns that folks have within their neighborhoods."

As of now, all fireworks are banned within the city limits, and the ban will be vigorously enforced this season. The 9-1-1 call center will set up a special non-emergency line to report fireworks complaints when the season gets underway, about July 1.

Missoula City Councilor Dave Strohmaier


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