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- 2014 - February - 7th -

Wanted: Old tires and illegal signs

By David Chapman, Staff Writer

Old tires and "bandit" signs can be illegal eyesores for Jacksonville neighborhoods and roadways.

Now, the city is willing to pay cash to have them picked up.

The city will host a buyback event 8 a.m.-2 p.m. April 5 at EverBank Field to purchase old tires and bandit signs — the small advertisements often placed illegally in city-owned rights of way.

Preliminary details of the event were presented Thursday to the City Council Ad Hoc Committee on Jacksonville Neighborhood Blight, including a budget of more than $107,000. Of that, $45,000 is proposed for "reward money" that would go toward paying people who bring in the blight-inducing items.

The current proposal includes $2 per tire with a maximum of 10 tires a person and 50 cents per sign and a cap of 40 signs.

The $45,000 would cover 20,000 tires and 5,000 signs and other expenses, according to the budget breakdown. Disposing of the tires would cost an additional $35,000.

The city based the idea on a similar program in Montgomery County, Ohio, which in September had a tire buyback event using the same payout. With a smaller population, the Ohio event collected 15,488 tires, paying out about $30,000.

Locally, the drive could be bigger than even the $45,000 could handle.

Jeff Foster, city solid waste division chief, told the committee it also should prepare a contingency fund, should the $45,000 not suffice for the intake. Without the funds to pay, Foster said people will ditch the items on the side of the road.

"Every time we have … (turn-in programs) advertised, we have a very, very good return, particularly on household wastes," Foster said.

Legislation could be filed as early as Tuesday for the money to be transferred.

The city also has been stepping up its efforts in taking out the illegal signs.

Kim Scott, city municipal code compliance division chief, told the committee that from late November until last week, city workers had taken down more than 4,000 bandit signs and issued citations.

Of those, 505 fines of $55 each have been paid.

Council member Johnny Gaffney, a member of the committee, responded by saying the fines will deter future lawbreakers and "hit them in their pocket."

Robo-call software to "educate and inform" bandit-sign owners could be on the way, but a legal opinion is still being sought on the matter.

Also Thursday, the group heard from the Jacksonville Transportation Authority on its efforts to improve trash collection at bus stops and shelters.

Of the more than 4,000 stops and shelters it maintains, only about 800 have trash receptacles.

The authority is proposing another 115 in some of the higher-usage areas that have generated complaints.

The committee also provided guidance to city departments that are compiling a master list of Citizen Political Action Committees, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups and others, to improve neighborhood issues.

City Council President Bill Gulliford's charge was for the committee to finish its work this month and propose legislation, if necessary.

Council member Denise Lee, chair of the committee, was enthusiastic about the group's work as it concluded Thursday morning.

"We are getting things done," she said. "We are going to clean up this city."

dchapman@baileypub.com

@writerchapman

(904) 356-2466

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