Councilman crusades for harsher penalties for illegal dumping - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Councilman crusades for harsher penalties for illegal dumping

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Dozens of used mattresses dumped along the side of Nashville roads have become an ugly and expensive eyesore. And Metro authorities are having a tough time getting the dumping to stop.

"We do too much work in this community to have people arbitrarily throw trash mattresses and whatever else they want," said Metro Councilman Walter Hunt.

Hunt says the mattresses are carelessly dumped alongside highways and under bridges.

"It's costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars every year," Hunt said.

The current fine for illegal dumping is $50, and Hunt said it's simply not enough.

"This is ridiculous, and I think the state and the city has got to get more serious about this and start fining people more adequately," he said.

To deter dumpers, Hunt wants a $1,500 fine implemented for a first offense. But the city council can't increase the penalties, the state has to do it.

"We clean it up today, tomorrow it will be back down again," Hunt said.

Meanwhile, phones at Metro Public Works ring off the hooks with reports of dumping. They get more than 1,800 calls every year.

"It is really appalling, actually, how many calls we receive daily," said Jenna Smith, with Metro Public Works.

The hardest part, officials say, is finding who is responsible in order to prosecute. Sifting through furniture and trash bags, they try to find addresses or any clues that will help.

"It's really irritating considering there are convenience centers around town," said Metro Compliance Inspector Chris Runyon.

Until the fines go up, Hunt believes this cycle will continue: calling, reporting, and sifting through rubble hoping something will change.

There are three legal dumping sites in Nashville. For more information on where to go, visit: http://www.nashville.gov/public-works/neighborhood-services/recycling/residential-waste-and-recycling-facilities.aspx.

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