published Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Jasper takes aim at illegal dumping

JASPER, Tenn. -- City workers are seeing a growing number of property owners who leave debris like couches, mattresses and carpet by the roads and expect them to remove it.

Mayor Paul Evans said sanitation workers now go around Jasper once a month to pick up garbage that will not go into normal trash containers.

"It's not brush," he said. "They do this once a month and take it to the landfill."

Problems with residents leaving trash on the side of the road for the city to remove seem to be getting worse, officials said.

City Attorney Mark Raines said the city is not responsible for hauling away anything other than "standard household garbage."

If property owners don't make arrangements to remove the trash at their own expense, they can be cited to City Court, he said.

"Once word gets out like that, we'll probably only have to deal with the most serious offenders, and we'd have to deal with them anyway," Raines said.

City workers have left notes and spoken with some property owners, telling them not to dump trash for the city to pick up.

That has helped with some issues, officials said, but there are at least 20 dumping sites around Jasper.

In one case, a resident in the Pryor Cove area left enough debris on the side of the road to fill an entire dump truck, Evans said, but after the city didn't pick it up, "they finally did something themselves."

The discarded trash around the city usually fills up a dump truck each month and costs the city $80 to $120 in dumping fees at the Marion County Landfill, officials said.

When that charge is combined with the cost of city workers and the equipment needed for the garbage removal, the costs rise rapidly.

Alderman Steve Looney said the dumping will "probably quadruple" once word gets out that the city does try to remove it once a month.

"I think if we let it go, we're going to see a big spike in our dumping fees [at the landfill]," he said.

For now, though, the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen instructed city workers to continue leaving form letters with offenders in hopes of lessening the burden on the city.

"The time to address it is now," Evans said. "I think if people know we're not going to [haul their trash away], I think they can make arrangements. It's just an added expense on [the city] that we don't need right now."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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