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|City delays new garbage ordinance|
The Monroe City Council postponed implementing its new garbage ordinance until Dec. 1 to allow for a public awareness campaign to inform citizens about the changes.
The city council agreed on the postponement Tuesday before conducting its regular meeting.
The new ordinance was originally approved by the city council on June 24. It was scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, following the public awareness campaign, which never took place.
Several city council members questioned why a public awareness campaign was never held.
"Nothing has been done to educate the population, and Oct. 1 is next week," said councilman Arthur Gilmore. "The general population has not been educated on what they can and cannot put on the side of the road and in front of their house."
City attorney Nanci Summersgill said the city postponed a public awareness campaign it planned to initiate prior to Oct. 1 because of Hurricane Gustav. Summersgill said officials felt it was not the appropriate time "to tell people what they could and couldn't put out."
Some residents still have storm debris that needs to be removed as public works continues to haul off debris and trash from hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
"It's still a tremendous effort trying to pick up things from the hurricanes," Summersgill said.
"The bottom line is come Oct. 1, things will still be relaxed," Summersgill explained. "People can still put out whatever they need to put out so we can pick it up. And we will get out and try to disseminate some information to the public.
"We've talked with public works and they say that there is so much out there that needs to be picked up, and now is not the time for disseminating that information to the public."
Public works director Tom Janway said it could take several more weeks before all storm debris and trash is removed from the city.
Rod Washington, interim director of planning and urban development, said an awareness campaign also was delayed because the city council originally indicated it wanted to make some changes to the ordinance.
Some city councilmen expressed concern over how the ordinance would be enforced.
"I am still wondering how it will be enforced," said council chairman Robert Stevens. "Before we start putting fines on people's water bills, we need to have something in place to make sure the person we fine is the person responsible (for the violation)."
Summersgill said as part of the awareness campaign, the city will basically inform people where they can put their garbage, when they can put it out and the items that cannot be placed out with their trash.
"And, if you see someone dumping, you better take their license plate because you can't complain to us if you're not telling us who's dumping it in the first place," Summersgill said. "All we can do is go pick it up."
"Our message to the public is: we need your help," she added.
The new ordinance allows the city to charge residents $50 to pick up garbage or other waste the city normally does not pick up, while businesses could face a $100 fine for illegal dumping.
Residents or businesses that do not pay the fee for dumping garbage the city will not pick up will see the new fines doubled for every seven days thereafter.
Those who refuse to pay the fee can have their water/sewer cut off until it is paid in full. The ordinance also requires residents in the city of Monroe not to place their containers at the curb before 4 p.m. on the day prior to collection. Garbage containers also must be removed by nightfall on the day of collection.