Lafayette council says sign up for garbage service, or face fines

Residents who have not signed up for mandatory garbage service and those who leave their trash cans at the road for too long now face fines.

The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to retool local laws regulating waste management in the parish, putting teeth into requirements that residents sign up for garbage service and they pull trash cans away from the road within 24 hours after trash has been picked up.

The requirements have long been in effect, but the only way to enforce either one was for city-parish government to file a lawsuit against the property owner.

“It’s not very practical,” city-parish Environmental Quality Manager Mark Pope said.

The changes approved Tuesday call for a $50-per-week fine for residents who have not signed up for mandatory trash service, with fines capped at $200.

Allied Waste has the contract for trash service in Lafayette Parish, and the fee is automatically added on the utility bills for city residents.

The issue has been in unincorporated areas outside the city limits, where residents contract directly with Allied Waste.

An estimated 1,200 residences of 16,500 in the unincorporated areas of the parish have not signed up for trash service, according to figures from city-parish government.

Pope said the problem is that those residents still produce garbage, which is likely being burned illegally, dumped on the side of the road or secretly stuffed in someone else’s trash can.

Failure to remove a trash cart from the road within 24 hours of pick-up will now bring a $25 fine, with fines capped at $100, under the new regulations approved Tuesday.

As with the fines for mandatory trash service, city-parish government could seek a lien on person’s property if the penalty is not paid.

The cart issue is largely one of aesthetics.

Several council members raised concerns about different situations in which someone might have a legitimate excuse for leaving a cart out too long.

Examples, they said, include elderly residents who rely on others to retrieve their trash cart and offshore workers who can’t retrieve their cart because they’ve shipped out for work.

“In my opinion fining someone and putting a lien on their property for a trash can seems a little extreme,” said Councilman Jared Bellard, the only councilman to vote against the new penalties.

Other council members also raised concerns about the impact the cart-removal provision could have on the elderly, offshore workers or vacationing families, but City-Parish Public Works Director Tom Carroll said his office has discretion in deciding when to pursue penalties.

Pope said before any residents are hit with a $25 fine for not removing a cart, they will first receive a warning.

In other business, the council on Tuesday introduced a measure that could revive a dormant controversy over the boundary between Lafayette and Vermilion parishes.

The council had reached an agreement with Vermilion officials about 10 years ago to accept the results of a state Land Office study of where the line should be.

But several city-parish leaders, most notably Councilman Don Bertrand, have long disputed the findings of the state Land Office, arguing that new line gave too much land to neighboring Vermilion Parish.

The measure introduced at Tuesday’s council meeting would void the agreement with Vermilion Parish and reject the findings of the state Land Office, essentially putting the parish boundary back in dispute.

The issue is up for a final vote on Oct. 15.