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|City weighs fines for illegal dumping|
The Monroe City Council unanimously agreed to introduce an ordinance Tuesday to amend the city's code governing its garbage and trash policies.
The issue is being tackled to thwart the growing problem of illegal dumping within city limits. Some city council members questioned how the city would enforce the new measures.
If the ordinance is approved by the city council at a future meeting, there will be a $50 fee for residents and a $100 fee for businesses that dump any items the city does not pick up.
Violators who do not pay the fine will have it increased by another $50 for every seven days thereafter.
Those who refuse to pay the fine can have their water/sewer service cut off until it has been paid in full.
Mayor Jamie Mayo said illegal dumping of items such as furniture, televisions and other electrical appliances has become a problem in all areas of the city.
In many cases, residents drop off unwanted items in a median or by dumpsters near their homes. Unless someone witnesses illegal dumping and is willing to report the person, the city has little recourse but to pick up the items.
If the city council approves the new fines, several councilmen said it would take the cooperation among city residents to make it work. Residents would have to be willing to report illegal dumping when they witness it. Public works employees also would have to file a report when they run across illegally dumped items during the city's weekly trash pickup.
"Nothing in here is going to work unless the citizens want it to work," Marx said of the proposed amendments to the city ordinance.
"If we don't want filthy, trashy neighborhoods, then people will have to be willing to come to trash court and be willing to say they saw someone do this," Marx said.
City attorney Nanci Summersgill added, "Unless someone is willing to come forward and say, 'This is the person who put it there,' there's nothing we can do."
Council chairman Robert "Red" Stevens said he had concerns that senior citizens on fixed incomes who cannot haul off unwanted items would be fined if they leave them out for the city to pick up.
He suggested that language be added to the ordinance to allow senior citizens to call public works to have items removed.
"If there are special circumstances, I think public works would do that," Summersgill said. "They're very nice about working with people."
However, Summersgill said the city could include information with water bills mailed to city residents where they could call when they needed help with "special items."
"We'll have a list of people who will come and pick up things, and there are those who will pick it up for no charge because they simply want the parts to appliances, and I guess there are those who will pick up old furniture at cost," Summersgill said.
Councilman Robert Johnson questioned how the ordinance would be enforced.
"I don't see anything in here that speaks to how we will determine which particular residence or apartment complex is a violator," Johnson said. "Unless a neighbor calls the city and tells us or someone on the garbage truck reports it, how are we going to make sure this has any teeth to it."
"If we pass it in its present state, we're going to have a catch and miss type situation," Johnson added.
Summersgill agreed that someone would have to report a violation. That will either have to be the violator's neighbors or the people picking up trash on the city's garbage trucks.
"There is no way we can have a specific person out going to each street every day seeing who is violating this," Summersgill said. "We've got to have cooperation from the neighborhoods, and from our city employees."
"It is a hit and miss type thing because we have to have people willing to report it," she said.
The city council is expected to vote on the matter at its next regular meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24.