Yesterday, I was interviewed by NBC 10 regarding the $50 fine assessed to homeowners who left trash bins at the curb after midnight of their assigned trash day. The fine struck me as high, so after the interview, I reviewed the Code of Ordinances as it pertains to trash fines. In 2011, the City Council amended the Code to set a more equitable fine structure: the fines were set at $25 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense. All subsequent fines were to be levied at $100, not to exceed $1,500 per calendar year.
While it is possible that this is an honest mistake, these fines are very real for the homeowners being assessed, and this is a serious oversight that could put the City on the hook for restitution to homeowners who were overcharged. I have asked the Internal Auditor to immediately review this situation.
In addition to calling for a complete audit of trash fines levied since passage of the 2011 amendment, I will also introduce an amendment to the ordinance that would call for a warning for first offenses, followed by a sliding fine scale for subsequent offenses. While it is important to enforce rules about trash and ensure that our streets and sidewalks are clear, we must also ensure that regulations are applied fairly and evenly. Overcharging our hardworking residents is unacceptable.
Link to NBC 10’s story: Providence Trash Barrel Tickets Pile Up