District 1 Supervisor Van Foster said people scavenging from dumpsters contributes greatly to litter in the county, and he thinks the problem is so widespread because the law isn’t being enforced.
Foster said he thought it was a good idea during his first term to increase the fine for scavenging from county dumpsters to $500, but now he believes deputies are reluctant to enforce the law because they consider the penalty too harsh for people who probably wouldn’t be climbing in garbage bins if they weren’t desperate for money.
“It’s gotten so far out of hand, and I don’t think the deputies wanted it on their conscience to write somebody a $500 fine for scavenging in the dumpsters,” Foster said. “It’s just gotten blatant – day and night.”
County Road Manager Jim Warrington said people even scavenge at the dumpsters behind the county barn in broad daylight.
“There’s people out there all day long,” Warrington said. “Our garbage truck went out there to say something to someone doing it last week and he like to have gotten whipped.”
“I’ve seen deputies over there, and y’all have too, (at the county barn) fueling up while people are digging in the dumpsters,” Foster said. “Maybe they don’t want it on their conscience to give someone a $500 fine.”
Foster suggested a $50 fine with higher fines for subsequent offenses and required community service cleaning up around dumpsters.
“I’m a big-hearted person,” Foster said. “I don’t want to see a person get a $500 fine for trying to pick up some aluminum cans. I didn’t want to see anyone getting a fine for picking up around the dumpsters, but many people are throwing garbage out of the dumpsters and leaving it on the ground.”
District 4 Supervisor Jayne Dew said she thinks it’s absurd that the county has to spend so much cleaning up around dumpsters.
“We have employees, and we have two trucks cleaning up around those dumpsters every day,” Dew said. “What’s so bad is that they can clean this up this morning and by afternoon it will look just as bad. It’s bad enough when people just throw the garbage back out on the ground, but when you go there and the garbage sacks have been ripped open, it’s really disgusting. They won’t put it back. It’s really aggravating.”
“I can understand people wanting to make a little extra money wanting to collect cans and things, but the bad ones affect all of us,” Foster said. “It’s like a grocery owner once said, one bad apple can spoil the whole bushel.”
“We have all seen them,” Dew said. “Some of them do it, and you’d never even know they had been there, but some leave it looking like dynamite exploded in the dumpster and left a big mess everywhere.”
Foster said he had recently had to send a backhoe to clean up debris that was apparently left behind by a contractor working a house.
“We got it cleaned up, and the next day two trucks pulled in with Madison County tags and dumped another big load right there by our dumpsters,” Foster said. “I asked the person who reported it if they got a tag number, but they only noticed that they were Madison County tags. I told them to get the tag numbers next time.”
“The taxpayers are paying the bill for us to clean up behind people,” Dew said. “It’s a shame that we have to clean up behind people.”
“I have landowners complain about garbage blowing into their yards or into their crops,” Foster said. “It has gotten so bad because we have allowed it to.”
Foster asked Sheriff Jake Sheriff to talk to his deputies and encourage them to enforce the law.
Sheriff said they will enforce the law, but signs need to be placed at the dumpsters informing people of the law.
“We need the signs because the first thing people are going to say is that they didn’t know about the law,” Sheriff said.
The county is ordering signs to place at the dumpsters, and those in violation of the law will receive a $50 fine.