Leaders in Sioux City have passed the first reading of an ordinance that will increase fines for fireworks violations.

Under the new ordinance, property owners would be held responsible and fined for the illegal use of fireworks at their home or property. The city council voted 4-1 Monday for the measure — with Pete Groetken, a retired police captain, voting no.

He questioned how the ordinance could be enforced. “I am not sure what this ordinance is doing except raising fines. I don’t know how we enforce it. I guess it can be done or we wouldn’t have recommended it,” Groetken said. “We are increasing the fine — but it’s not really solving the problem.”

Groetken says many people have told him the city should just ban fireworks. He says nine of out ten calls he gets from the public say they should get rid of fireworks. Councilwoman Julie Schoenherr says she has more people tell her they want to be able to celebrate the New Year and 4th of July with fireworks. And she thinks they need to continue with the education campaign.

“I haven’t heard as many negative to turn them off and to make them illegal as I have the other way around. So, I want to continue and I want to really, really hit the PSA’s after after the first of the year,” Schoener said.

The proposal would fine property owners $250 for a first offense violation of the fireworks ordinance, $500 for a second offense, and $1,000 for a third or more violations. The proposal must pass two more times before being enacted.

Fireworks may be legally used in Sioux City from 1:00 p.m. December 31st until 12:30 a.m. on January 1st, and July 3rd through July 4th from the hours of 1:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m.

(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)