Gulfport councilman proposes new littering ordinance

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - One Gulfport councilman said he is fed up with litter lining the streets of his city. He believes it's time for the city to take a stand against litter bugs and put trash where it belongs.

Right now, if a person is caught littering in the city of Gulfport, the fine is $275. But, that fine is not keeping trash off the streets.

"What we want to do is have a fine that's stiff enough to say, 'You know, they're usually not going to catch me littering, but if they do it's going to hurt,'" said Rusty Walker.

He wants to see the fine jump up to $1,000.

"Certainly, we know there are people that a $1,000 fine will hurt for those folks, so we'll offer an option of community service."

Walker said that trash problem is especially evident on the main roads in the city, such as Pass and Dedeaux roads, and Highway 49. He said the litter is not helping attract new businesses to the area.

"When we have developers and new businesses and employees coming to Gulfport, we don't want them looking at litter," said Walker.

We spoke with several business owners in the city who did not want to appear on camera, but said they agree with Walker that the problem does exist. But their question was, what is defined as litter?

According to the Gulfport Police Department's website, litter can be any quantity of un-containerized paper, metal, plastic or glass.

"Now, the littering fine I have proposed is just a small part, almost like a lottery. It's one of those lotteries you don't want to win. Catching a litter bug is so hard for the city. We have such a high burden to catch them. Police actually have to see them in the act," said Walker.

Walker said the solution is simple. People need to throw their trash in the appropriate places, trash cans and dumpsters.

Walker's proposal will be discussed at the city's next council meeting.

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