Originally created 02/26/97

Augusta scraps garbage pickup plan



A controversial plan for mandatory trash pickup has been dumped.

Instead, city officials will work harder to enforce existing laws, according to a recommendation by an illegal dumping subcommittee announced Tuesday.

The subcommittee also recommends offering rewards of up to $100 - upon conviction - for people who turn in illegal dumpers.

City officials had planned to charge residents at least $15 a month for the curbside service, but residents have angrily denounced the plan at a series of public hearings.

"We made a proposal and took it to the public, and the public said no," said Commissioner Moses Todd of the mandatory plan.

Instead, it will fall to property owners to clean up their property, even if someone else puts the waste there.

Property owners will have 15 days to clean up the mess. If they haven't cleaned it up and don't seem to be working on the problem, the city has the right to clean it up and assess the cost of the cleanup against the property owner, said city Administrator Randy Oliver.

Owners who don't live in Augusta will be held accountable for waste on their property, Mr. Todd said.

"Being an absentee owner doesn't excuse you from being responsible," he said. "Most of them have people who look after the property, either someone from a real estate company or a family member."

Commercial dumpers will face even stricter penalties, Mr. Oliver said. Those companies could lose their business license or have their vehicles confiscated.

"If that happens a time or two, that should serve as a major deterrent because the companies will be out of business," Mr. Oliver said.

The city will ask for $50,000 from the Richmond County Landfill Contingency Fund to help with the cleanup. About $40,000 of that money will go toward the costs of cleanup, and the remainder will fund the reward money.

The request for the $50,000 must be approved by the full commission.

Mr. Todd recommended a six-week timetable for cleaning up the garbage on public property.