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|Mayo to urge citizens to clean up Monroe|
Citizens of Monroe need to step up to the plate to help officials improve the city, especially with litter and trash issues.
That will be one of the main topics in next week's speech by Mayor Jamie Mayo, who along with the city council members, will be officially sworn in 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, at the Monroe Civic Center.
Mayo hinted at his upcoming speech during Tuesday's regular city council meeting when several local citizens spoke to the council about trash problems.
Earline Bryant, who lives in southern Monroe, was joined by several north Monroe residents in speaking to the council. She said there is a problem in both south and north Monroe with people placing trash outside homes, which the city does not pick up.
The city council earlier in the meeting introduced an ordinance to amend the city code to address residents who leave items like furniture and washing machines outside their homes.
Under the proposed ordinance, violators would be fined $50 if they do not remove the items upon the city's request. Every seven days that the items remain outside, the fine will increase by $50.
Mayo told the group that public works employees are "doing the best they can with the resources they have."
"I've often said we have the most liberal services in the whole universe," Mayo said. "There is no other community that has the type of services that we provide and picks up garbage and trash and all other types of things that people set outside."
"It's unbelievable the amount we pick up, and the problem I have is all the emphasis is put on government, and government cannot do it all," Mayo continued. "I don't hear nearly enough emphasis challenging the citizens -- and that's what my whole inaugural speech is going to be about -- we're going to do our part, but the citizens need to do their part in terms of shared responsibility. I'm here to challenge the public because the public has to step up and do its part, and right now, we're not doing it."
Mayo said illegal dumping is a problem within the city limits of Monroe. If the public doesn't report illegal dumping to city officials, most of the time the city will not know it's occurring, Mayo said.
"At this point, we're doing all we can do," he added.
This past fiscal year the city's public works department was $1.5 million over budget because of overtime paid to employees plus the repairs needed to repair old equipment.
The unbudgeted overtime pay was strictly for weekly trash pick-up within the city and from overtime pay for mowing the state's right-of-ways.
"They were $1.5 million over budget," Mayo said. "Why? Because of the emphasis from the community to clean up the community.
"We went out on the interstate and mowed the grass, mowed the right-of-ways, picked up paper, did this, did that, all trying to improve this community. But that costs dollars."
Several of the citizens who spoke to the council said they are more than willing to help the city in its efforts to clean up the community. They said they would get involved in community trash pickups and also report illegal dumping when they see it.