November 26, 2012

Talking trash during the holidays is wrong. But at least there is a tidy ending.

As the fiscal year for the county of Mobile closed last month, Mobile County Environmental Control officers reported that they had picked up 19,616 gallon bags of litter off public roadways during the year. At the same time, they opened about 2,300 cases against individuals for failure to comply with the state Junk Ordinance law.

What this means is that two full-time road crews worked ceaselessly during the last fiscal year to pick up roadway litter dumped by the public on the sides of roads. At the same time, thousands of citizens were required to clean up litter, usually on or near their own properties. Most of these citizens – a total of 84 percent – voluntarily complied with warnings. Failure to comply resulted in 87 citations which required judicial hearings.

“People have the right to a clean and healthy environment and I’m glad that most citizens are willing to work toward that goal,” said Mobile County Commission President Merceria Ludgood. “We don’t want to issue citations; we are simply trying to get compliance with the state law.”

“Trash is a blight on a community and by working together, we have achieved some success in cleaning up our own neighborhoods,” added Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson.

Despite the volume of work, the Environmental Enforcement Department finished two percent under its budget of about $1 million. Some savings were gleaned by the use of jail trustees and community service workers who made up half of each crew on the streets during the year.

On top of all that, the Environmental Enforcement Department actually generated cash for the county. Taking advantage of scrap metal prices, the county sold about 42,000 pounds of scrap metal for $4,826. It also had an option, for the first time last year, to get reimbursed for removal of scrap tires by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and that brought in another $4,145.

“These savings come from a good partnership between the county and other agencies of the state,” said Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl. “It’s a great example of how we can leverage our efficiencies and save money.”

Junk tires have long been a nuisance for the county. People often have dumped them on isolated properties, creating health and environmental issues. The county, under the new Scrap Tire Remediation Agreement with the state, disposed of 220 cubic yards of junked tires and recycled 659 tires from county’s roadways. -

The Environmental Enforcement Department also conducted five Clean Sweeps in the last year. Working with communities, the department brings citizens together on a designated day to clean an area of accumulated trash and litter. The county brings in its work force to help and disposes of the collected trash at a landfill. There were 676 participants in the Clean Sweeps last year and more than 40 loads of litter were carried away during the Sweeps.


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