Fines coming for trash violators in Harrisburg

Harrisburg has been trying to cope with its trash problem for years. Councilwoman Sandra Reid announced a new program to tackle trash, coincidentally called COPE.

Every day in May, Reid vowed to take a photo of trash. Now, she is backing up her awareness with action.

“Four TVs out here and three bags of trash. I went by there this morning. It’s ridiculous,” Reid said. “It’s out of control. That’s what we’re working on.”

Reid held a news conference Friday that showed the city’s free recycling bins, free trash cans available, and two chairs to signify the city’s willingness to pick up one bulk item a week.

As a councilwoman, Reid said government has done its part to give residents an avenue to tidy up, and now it’s time for them to pay up.

Reid explained COPE (Cleanup, Observe, Provide, and Enforce) will be her operation to educate and enforce the city’s ordinances against trashy properties.

“This is our warning,” Reid said.

By the end of July, Reid said the city will hire a sanitation codes enforcement officer, a $46,000 salaried position allotted for in the 2014 budget. However, the city’s current hiring freeze will put the position on hold until further notice.

Andre Simmons, who lives on Swatara Street, said he is surrounded by slums. Directly across from his home were piles of garbage bags. He’s glad litterbugs will finally be held accountable.

“I think it’s a good idea to clean up Harrisburg,” he said. “It’s real junky around here; alleyways, everything.”

Reid said the details of the ordinance and fine amounts still need public debate and Council approval. Reid said fines would be more than the price of a trash can. She said she also spoke with several district justices who agreed not to let the fines fall through the cracks.

The councilwoman said she has the backing of police, council members, the Papenfuse administration, and Dauphin County’s Illegal Dumping Task Force. Her goal is not to be harsh for harsh sake, but rather give clean and obeying residents an opportunity to live a safe and healthy life in Harrisburg.

“Every resident deserves to live in a neighborhood that is free of trash and rodents and vector in a sanitary condition,” Reid said.

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