LEWISTON — Councilors opted for an outright ban on fireworks Tuesday night, thanks to some last-minute parliamentary wrangling.
The City Council voted 5-2 to ban the sale and use of all fireworks within city limits, with Councilors John Butler and Larry Poulin dissenting.
A new state law, scheduled to take effect in January, legalizes the sale and possession of fireworks. It allows cities and towns to adopt their own limitations, however.
Butler said he doubted Lewiston's new ordinance would work. He asked police to report back on the number of citations issued by October 2012. Residents will still buy fireworks outside Lewiston and bring them here, he said.
"At least with this information we can see if this ordinance, which you all seem to like so much, actually works," Butler said. "Let's put theory and practice together and see what we get."
Councilors had voted down an identical, outright ban at their Oct. 18 meeting, but lacked enough votes to pass it. With Councilors Renee Bernier and Tina O'Connell not attending that meeting, councilors voted 3-2 in favor of the ban. By charter, councilors need a minimum of four votes to amend a city ordinance.
A section in the city's governing rules, Robert's Rules of Order, does not allow councilors to revote on bans that have failed. On Tuesday, councilors got around that requirement with a 5-2 vote to suspend Robert's Rules for that discussion, and a second 5-2 vote to reconsider the Oct. 18 decision.
Both Butler and Poulin argued against the votes to suspend the rules.
"This council has always acted according to their own rules," Poulin said. "I'd hope that we would continue that."
Councilors also considered a less drastic ban but turned it down. It would have allowed fireworks to be used in the outskirts of the city but not downtown. Fireworks would have been only allowed on three days: Dec. 31, Jan. 1 and July 4. Only professional fireworks displays would be exempt from the new rule.
"I don't see how that change could be beneficial to the city at all," Councilor Ron Jean said. "If we do this, all that's going to happen is we're going to create more problems for ourselves."