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TELL CITY - Warning letters addressed to Tell City residents who set untagged bags of trash out for pickup - or who leave trash lying about on properties they own or rent - will soon be in the mail and those who don't clean up their acts face stiff fines.
The city has always enforced rules requiring bags of trash to be tagged before pickup but has tried to work with homeowners who occasionally forget to tag their bags. For years, crews have occasionally returned a second time to alleys and curbsides to pick up trash, Street Commissioner Jeff Everly told the city's works board last Monday, but spiraling labor and fuel charges make it necessary for the city to get tough with violators.
Repeat visits to pick up trash cost the city extra money. "And I think we should be trying to cover our costs," Everly said. "We've tried working with people for years but it's gotten to the point where we need to recoup our expenses."
The city's existing ordinance allows for fines and per-bag charges for untagged trash if crews have to return, but Everly said the council could consider a change to the ordinance allowing employees to immediately pick up trash that isn't tagged and bill the resident.
The letters warn that violations after March 17 will be reported to the works board, whose members could recommend a change to the ordinance.
Everly said city employees will also be asking landlords to talk with their renters about the city's trash-collection rules. Many, but not all, violations occur at rental homes, Everly said.
Eyesore Properties Getting Attention, Too
Tell City's Mayor Barbara Ewing said she will encourage the five members of the common council to report property owners not abiding by the city's restrictions on junk and trash, and as spring comes, to include reports of tall weeds.
Building Inspector Bob Young handed a list of 13 sites to the council earlier this month. Certified letters were mailed to owners giving them 10 days to remove the debris. If no action is taken, the city can do the work and bill the owner. Those bills, if not paid, can be affixed to property-tax bills and while the process can take months or even years for properties being foreclosed upon or whose owners file bankruptcy, the city often gets its money back.