Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
City litter penalties may rise
Thursday, June 28, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
People who recklessly discard trash in Martinsville soon may face harsher penalties.
Martinsville City Council on Tuesday adopted on first reading an ordinance that will make littering a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, a jail sentence of up to 12 months or both.
In July, the council will consider final approval of the ordinance, but that is almost certain based on Tuesday’s vote.
Residents have asked the council to increase the penalties for littering, said City Attorney Eric Monday.
Littering now is a Class 4 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $250, on the first offense and a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500, on subsequent offenses.
Class 1 is the harshest type of misdemeanor. Littering once was on the books as a Class 1. Monday said the penalty was reduced a few years ago because officials thought judges would be reluctant to impose such stiff sentences on litterers.
A city ordinance classifies litter as trash, animal carcasses, glass or ashes disposed of on public or private property without the owner’s permission. That includes streets, sidewalks and rights-of-way.
If litter is seen being thrown from a car or truck, the owner or operator of the vehicle will be presumed responsible, the ordinance shows.
Also Tuesday, the council heard a report on the city’s vehicle policy.
Summing up the policy, Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki said that due to budget constraints, recommendations for the replacement of vehicles and other items of city equipment are prioritized with emphasis on emergency services, employee safety and providing essential services to residents.
When replacements are needed, and when it is possible, the city buys pre-owned vehicles and equipment, Towarnicki said.
He added that when a vehicle is replaced, it is considered for reuse for “less critical” needs. Vehicles in the worst shape are rotated out of service and either auctioned or traded in toward the purchase of new ones.
The council also:
• Learned that the Piedmont Area Regional Transit bus system set a one-day record June 19 with 128 boardings.
Towarnicki said the buses are becoming more and more popular for travel around the city and Henry County.
• Appropriated $78,000 in state grant funds into the current fiscal year’s budget to be used toward replacing a water line on Lanier Road.
Also allocated into the budget was $19,015 from various reimbursements. The money will be used toward city sheriff’s office expenses such as wages for part-time and temporary employees, and vehicle maintenance.
• Approved a document showing it concurs with the city schools’ financial contributions to the Virginia Retirement System.
• Heard from area resident Chad Martin, who expressed gratitude for the parks and recreation department not being eliminated under budget cuts.
Martin mentioned that a cleanup of the West End Park is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 14.