YONKERS, N.Y. – Some people are treating Yonkers like a dump, and city officials have had enough.
City council members are expected to vote Tuesday night on a proposal to raise the minimum fine from $500 to $5,000 for anyone caught dumping their garbage illegally. The hope, officials say, is that the hefty increase sends a message and makes people think twice before unloading their trash in Yonkers.
“We can make marked improvement in improving the dumping situation in Yonkers,” Department of Public Works Commissioner Thomas Meier said last week at a committee meeting of the city council.
Illegal dumping, not to be confused with littering, is sometimes committed by commercial business or residents looking to avoid issues of inconvenience or cost, council members said. Other times, it can be a lack of information.
Either way, there are penalties for dumping, which can include impounding of the vehicle and criminal charges.
City officials said last week they wanted to “beef up” the civil side of the problem. Under the new plan, the minimum penalty for violators would increase to $5,000 while the maximum penalty would remain at $10,000.
A fine increase is only part of a larger plan to curb illegal dumping. The mayor’s office is working on a plan to give department of public works' supervisors the authority to issue summonses, officials said.
Council members said they also would like to see an increase in “No Dumping” signs warning of potential penalties or video cameras and surveillance equipment at vacant lots that are common targets of violators.
In addition, councilman Michael Sabatino suggested the city work with landlords to target tenants who have been dumping things like couches or mattresses.
“As shameful as that is, it is happening,” Sabatino said.
The problem of illegal dumping isn't just an aesthetic issue, city officials said. Meier said it also is costing taxpayers a significant amount of money. City crews have spent time a considerable amount of time cleaning and clearing lots of discarded trash, Meier said.
“We have cleaned literally five to six hundred lots since I've been commissioner,” he said. “And it takes an awful long time.”