BURLEY — Burley officials swore in a new mayor and three Council members Jan. 2 and tabled a new draft ordinance banning tobacco at the East Park skate park and at Salmon Park, which includes the city’s swimming pool, after councilmen expressed hesitation.
Burley Mayor Steve Ormond took his seat among the Council after a presentation for outgoing mayor, Merlin Smedley.
The city presented Smedley with a clock and Councilman Randy Hawkins called him one of Burley’s native sons.
“I appreciate the time I spent as mayor,” Smedley said. “It has been a wonderful trip for me. I can tell you being inside looking out, you see a lot more than when you’re outside looking in.”
Councilmen Bryce Morgan, Casey Andersen and Jon Anderson were sworn in as returning councilmen.
The council also elected Councilman John Craner as Council president.
After discussion, the Council agreed to table the ordinance to expand the ban on tobacco at two more city parks and reduce the penalty from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
The city currently has an ordinance in place banning tobacco at Story Book Park.
“I have an uneasy feeling about this ordinance,” Councilman Russ Mallory said.
Mallory said as an ex-smoker he thinks the city would be taking away people’s civil liberties.
He agrees with the concept of banning smoking in enclosed spaces.
But, he said, he would consider a yes vote to an ordinance that designated a specific area of the park as smoke free.
“I don’t think this Council has the moral authority to ban a legal product,” Mallory said.
Councilman Bryce Morgan disagreed with Mallory.
“I think you have to look at the intended purpose of the park,” Morgan said.
Morgan would support an ordinance that limited tobacco use to a certain area.
Councilman Randy Hawkins said the city could make it more of a deterrent than a legal infraction with signs.
“I find it ironic that we could do this but we can’t clean up the air of a certain potato dehydrator, which floods this community with odor,” Council President John Craner said.
In other business, the Council tabled a vote on a lease of the property on Idaho 30, across from Gem State Processing, to a biofuels company, who wants to capture waste from the city’s industrial plant to be used as biofuel. The Council will hold a special meeting, on Thursday to consider the lease. The Council did not set a time for the meeting.