County wants litterbugs to pay up

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, December 4, 2012

NATCHEZ — Litter has long been a bane of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, and Monday the supervisors took another step forward in their war on wanton wayside waste.

The supervisors authorized their attorney to advertise a new ordinance that would create the position of a litter enforcement officer with the authority to write $1,000 citations for littering. The board has in the past stated its intention for the position to support itself through the generation of citations.

Advertising the ordinance and seeking public input for it is a necessary legal step for the creation of the position, which the supervisors have talked about for the better part of a year.

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In 2007, the board enacted a litter fine that was set at a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $500, overruling the then in-place state sanction of $50.

But the intended deterrent has done little to address problem spots in the county in the last five years, and Monday Supervisors President Darryl Grennell expressed support for the $1,000 fine.

“We have got to break up the littering in Adams County,” Grennell said. “When somebody starts getting a $1,000 ticket for throwing litter out their car window, people will start thinking.”

Referencing a picture of litter in the Broadmoor area that ran in The Natchez Democrat’s “Please Fix” section last week, Grennell said litter crews from the Adams County Sheriff’s Office routinely clean up that area, and that it needs to be a target for the litter control officer once the position is filled.

“We fix that every Monday morning, but by the end of the day, people have thrown garbage out of their vehicles,” Grennell said. “You can’t keep someone out there all the time, but the first time you see someone throw (litter), give them a $1,000 fine.”

Supervisor David Carter said he was unsure some county residents would be able to pay a $1,000 fine. Carter suggested that those ticketed for littering have the option of being able to work off their fines by picking up litter.

“The big thing (about the ordinance) is how do you enforce it once we do it?” Carter said.

Board attorney Scott Slover said he has taken the proposed ordinance to the local judiciary to get their opinion, and Grennell said he was willing to work with the judges to get the ordinance to work.

Slover said the board might need to consider some kind of local legislation that would allow the officer to be a sworn code enforcement officer for the City of Natchez so the officer could work in an arrangement similar to Metro Narcotics agents, enforcing both city and county codes.

In other news:

• Grennell told the board to be ready to bring to its January meeting nominations for both the Natchez Regional Medical Center board of trustees and the St. Catherine Creek Utility Authority.

The terms of four hospital board members are expiring, while the five-member St. Catherine Creek authority has three vacancies due to resignations.

• The board gave Slover and County Administrator Joe Murray the authority to negotiate with Waste Management and Waste Pro to see which company can give the county the best deal on garbage collection.

Waste Management currently collects the county’s garbage. The City of Natchez recently switched from Waste Management to Waste Pro for garbage collection service.

• The board told Road Manager Robbie Dollar to contact the proper authorities about a utility line owned by the Broadmoor Utility Association that has broken because the board has no authority to address the issue. Dollar said the line ran under a bayou, but had recently broken due to erosion around it.

• The board voted to allow Murray to transfer $25,000 from the Metro Narcotics forfeited assets account for the purchase of a new Metro vehicle.