Mayor proposes $500 fines for littering

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By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Mayor Lee Posey says litter in Natchitoches is “unbelievable” and hopes the City Council will back him on increasing the fines for littering. About 15 people attended a work session Monday before the City Council meeting to discuss littering fines and standards for the maintenance and upkeep of private property. At present, the maximum fine for a third offense is $500 which is the most allowed by State statute. Posey wants to impose fines of $500 per offense and community service. He wants to include jail time if fines are not paid and community service is not performed. Suggestions from those attending included posting signage in the City that outline the fines and penalties; reporting offenders on the City’s website; and reporting offenders to the Mayor’s office.

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Among the questions posed are who will enforce new ordinances and who will monitor community service. Posey acknowledged that it will be difficult to enforce stiffer fines but he hopes to have the cooperation of judges and law enforcement officers. He hopes residents will be aware of problem areas and help with collecting trash. “I hope this town will take pride in what they’re doing,” Posey said, “ noting that a dirty city can negatively impact economic development. Councilman Eddie Harrington suggested putting information about new ordinances in utility bills.

In discussing reporting license plates numbers of vehicles with occupants who litter, it was stated that the registered owner of the vehicle can be charged, regardless of who litters. There was a consensus that levying a $500 fine might encourage some not to litter. On person suggested fining fast foods and restaurants that generate litter such as food boxes and sacks. Another person suggested that the City have an enforcement officer. Posey hopes to influence owners to keep the area around their businesses clean. He has personally talked to some to influence them to clean up. Dawn Celles, who lives on St. Maurice Lane, said that rental property houses near her home houses a mechanic shop that has numerous vehicles on site. She said one house for sale has a truck on blocks that has been there for eight years. Posey asked for the address of that offender as well as others. He said he hopes to return to the council with stronger ordinances.

“I think we have a game plan,” he said. When the regular meeting began, the council introduced several ordinances including one to adopt the budget for the next fiscal year, June 1,2019-May 31, 2020. The general fund stands at $167 million; utility fund at $36.5 million; and special and capital project funds $35.8 million. Another ordinance proposes awarding the bid for electric distribution rehabilitation for the Quida and Jackson Streets project to low bidder Sunstream Inc., of Natchitoches with a bid of $76,398. Other bids were from CDG Energy LLC of Alexandria, $80,053; and Preferred Electric Inc., of New Iberia, $128,565.

Also introduced was a proposed zoning change from B-2 Neighborhood Business to B-3 Community and Central business District for Magee’s Patio Café. The rezoning will allow the restaurant to open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. It now opens at 10 a.m. The council passed a resolution opposing legislation that would transfer the collection of local sales tax to the La. Dept. of Revenue.