State Threatens Fines For Garbage
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) _ Debt-plagued East St. Louis, which hasn’t had regular garbage pickup for six months, faces fines of $10,000 or more if the city does not clean up well enough by May 3, officials say.
Although state laws against illegal dumping and failure to dispose of garbage apply to all property owners, the state’s action is aimed primarily at the city, St. Clair County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Hoffman said Wednesday.
″The main thrust of this is getting rid of a public health problem,″ Hoffman said.
Officials in this poverty-stricken riverfront city of 55,000 told state regulators that garbage pickup should resume Friday. And they have budgeted $210,800 of federal community development funds to have the backlog of garbage that has piled up taken care of.
Ken Mensing, regional manager of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, said that if the cleanup doesn’t go fast enough, the city could face a state injunction, fines as high as $10,000 and penalties up to $1,000 per additional day of non-compliance for each violation, he said.
″Just where we would draw the line, I don’t know,″ Mensing said. ″We haven’t discussed it.″
Mensing said he could not estimate the amount of garbage that has accumulated in East St. Louis since regular garbage pickup ceased in October because the city owed $262,000 to the private company that it had hired to do the collecting. The company has since sued the city.
The only garbage hauling that has been done since then has been in the form of volunteer drives, or work done privately by companies hired by individual businesses and homeowners.
Joseph Kurre, director of the East Side Health District, said the onset of warm weather raises the specter of disease and increased rat infestations caused by rotting garbage.
Over the objections of Mayor Carl Officer, other city officials recently contracted with another private company G. Corp. to do trash pickup until December for $350,000.
Officer continues to contend that the city cannot afford to pay for the service and that property owners should pay private companies to haul away their trash.