Scarborough councilors reject bid to limit fireworks

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SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors on Wednesday rejected an attempt to limit the use of consumer fireworks, and instead sent the proposal back to committee.

Unless the town enacts its own limits before Jan. 1 – an option that now seems all but impossible – the decision means fireworks will be legal as of Jan. 1, governed by a state law that allows their use from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. all year and even longer on holidays.

The Town Council rejected a proposed ban on the use and sale of consumer fireworks at its Nov. 16 meeting.

On Wednesday, Town Manager Tom Hall proposed limiting the times fireworks could be used to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Hall called the ordinance a stop-gap, intended to control fireworks until the council decides on more permanent rules regarding the sale and use of fireworks.

Councilor Richard Sullivan said the proposal was just another way to ban fireworks, which the council had already decided it didn’t want to do.

Councilors agreed with him, and voted 6-1 to send the question back to the Ordinance Committee. Councilor Carol Rancourt said she agreed the ordinance change needed more work, but opposed sending the bill back to committee because of the potential for noise problems.

Hall argued the proposal was a necessary, short-term solution until the council could decide how to move forward.

“I didn’t have the luxury of the Ordinance Committee to get this done,” he said. 

Ordinance Committee members have not yet been appointed by council Chairman Ronald Ahlquist.

Councilors on Wednesday also agreed to extend the term of the Municipal Tax Increment Finance District for another three years.

TIF districts are a financial tool that allow municipalities to earmark tax revenue increases to pay for certain area for development projects.

The Municipal TIF District was enacted in 1985 to fund construction of the Municipal Offices, the addition of the police station to the fire station on Route 1, and renovation of the Scaborough Public Library. 

The town needs to pull in more than $600,000 from the TIF to break even on those expenditures, Hall said. 

“We’ve not performed sufficiently enough, meaning the value of the TIF has not performed well enough to pay for those projects,” Hall said. 

The TIF district will expire in 2016. The town must capture the full cost of district improvements in tax revenue by then, or risk losing money, because state law limits TIF districts lifespans to 30 years.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow him on Twitter: @riocarmine.

Sidebar Elements

Ahlquist elected Scarborough council chairman

SCARBOROUGH — Councilor Ronald Ahlquist was elected Town Council chairman Wednesday in a 5-2 vote, with Councilors Karen D’Andrea and Carol Rancourt in the minority.

Former Chairwoman Judith Roy was named vice chairwoman, with D’Andrea and Rancourt again dissenting. 

D’Andrea nominated Rancourt for both leadership positions, but the nomination failed to receive a second.

The meeting was also the first for Councilor James Benedict, who defeated Paul Andriulli by just 79 votes in the November election.

— Mario Moretto