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Law change targets city litterbugs

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen hopes cracking down onlitterbugs by modifying an existing litter ordinance will helpimprove the overall look of the city.

“There is litter all over town,” said Mayor Bob Massengill.”It’s just everywhere. (Police) Chief (Pap) Henderson says they’llenforce it strictly.”

The board voted 5-0 Tuesday night to clarify the wording in alitter fine ordinance that has been in effect since 1993. Ward OneAlderman Dorsey Cameron was absent and Ward Six Alderman BuddyAllen abstained.

Aldermen voted to change the wording on the current resolutionbecause to amend it or draft a new ordinance would require a 30-daywaiting period. By simply clarifying current language in the 1993resolution, it can take effect immediately.

There are two important changes.

The primary change adjusts ordinance language for rising courtcourts, which must be paid in addition to any fine amounts.

In 1993, the court cost was $37.50 and has since gone up. Today,the court cost is $86.50.

Another change clarifies ordinance language governing thelittering fine and re-establishes it at $100, plus court cost andone day of community service.

Allen felt the fine needed to be raised, a sentiment that wasnot met with disapproval. However, that amendment would take 30days to go into effect, so it was decided that the simple wordingchanges would be made.

“We’ll go ahead and put this into effect and see what bearing ithas,” said Massengill. “Then if we need to amend it for animals orraise the fine, we can do that at that time.”

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes had brought up the issue ofanimals getting into trash and dragging it out onto the street.

There was brief discussion of holding owners and parentsresponsible for the litter caused by animals and children. However,Massengill said it was important to focus on those who arewitnessed in the act of littering at this time.

“If we can take care of the people who are throwing trash on thestreets, we can clean up this town,” he said.

City Attorney Joe Fernald pointed out that most of the litter islightweight plastic bags from grocery stores, although cigarettebutts also comprise a surprising percentage of the garbage that isswept off the streets of Brookhaven.

The existing ordinance, while the fines were set in 1993, hasbeen in place since 1962.