Before you head out to purchase fireworks for the July 4 holiday, check out the new rules that will govern the use of fireworks in the City and Borough of Juneau starting next month.
At their meeting Monday night, CBJ Assembly members voted to approve new regulations that outline when and where certain types of fireworks can be used.
The ordinance, which assembly members called “a good compromise,” comes after months of negotiations and generally bans loud, mortar-style fireworks in Juneau’s neighborhoods. The changes go into effect in 30 days.
Mayor Beth Weldon and Assembly Member Loren Jones voted no on the measure saying that the new rules are confusing and difficult to enforce.
Assembly members said that resident feedback about the rules lacked a consistent theme, making it difficult to gauge public opinion.
“In reading the 50 or 60 emails we received, there’s no consistent theme,” Jones said. “I do believe this is not enforceable. It won’t solve the problem, and it will exasperate the public.”
But, the majority of assembly members took a different view on the remedy. Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale, who initially proposed the changes earlier this year, summed up the perspective of those who voted yes.
“This is a compromise, and we worked very hard on it,” she said. “Some people want fireworks all day, every day, and others want no fireworks. We have to do something. If we can keep those big fireworks out of the neighborhoods, that’s a good step,” she said.
Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski, who also voted yes, predicted that the topic would come back before the assembly.
“This is the best we can do for most people. We will be back at it; I’d bet,” she said.
No sales tax on fireworks
The assembly declined to move forward on a measure to collect sales tax on all firework sales in the city or borough.
If passed, the tax collection would have affected sales by the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, which is generally exempt from collecting sales tax. Last year, Tlingit and Haida sold fireworks for personal use ahead of the July 4 holiday.
Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson joined the meeting via Zoom to oppose the plan.
“The land the fireworks are sold on is on Indian land. The municipal government can’t impose laws on the tribe,” Peterson said.
He added that based on sales from last year, the city would collect little revenue and that the imposition to collect the tax would likely lead to litigation.
“We are conducting our sale on private land in Indian Country. We can’t be taxed as that’s a government-to-government tax,” he said. “We don’t want to be singled out. I think it would take us down an unfortunate path toward litigation,” Peterson added.
Jones, who made the proposal and was the only yes vote, said that he thought a tax was possible because the impact of the products the tribe is selling happens on CBJ land.
“If they wanted to sell it on their land and have everyone shoot them off there, fine,” Jones said, adding that fireworks are used on beaches, in parks and within neighborhoods.
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-308-4891.