Illegal dumping fee changes discussed

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Orange Grove Journal

In an effort to recoup some of the expense involved with cleaning up after illegal dumpers, a meeting was held last week between the Jim Wells county judge, county attorney and abatement officer to discuss possible options, including an increase in fines for offenders.

Currently, residents found guilty of illegal dumping can expect to pay court costs of $269. That amount is added to the overall fine, which varies depending on the classification of the dumping.

The highest fines and penalties are reserved for Class A misdemeanors, which can incur a fine of $4,000 per offense between 500 to 1,000 pounds, to state jail felonies, which could lead to fines of up to $10,000 for more than 1,000 pounds of trash.

"The majority of the monies we receive through fines and fees are sent to the state. Often, the problem still remains with trash on the side of the road," County Attorney Jesusa Sanchez Vera said.

Two options the group is considering includes assessing an additional fee attached to the total fine, which would be dependent on the size of the trash in question. That money would then go towards paying an individual to pick up the garbage.

Another option would be to add in the judgment, that in addition to a finding of guilt, the offenders would also be ordered to pick up the trash themselves and dispose of it properly.

Vera said they could arrange a time to meet with Hector Zertuche, the JWC abatement officer, to meet, so that he could accompany the individual to make sure the trash was disposed of legally.

These are the two options currently on the table to help relieve the amount of trash left on the roads by individuals found guilty of illegal dumping.

Vera said an option would be in place by the next court date, which will take place in late June or early July.