Councilwoman Wants Study On Abandoned Tires

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ATLANTA — Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd said it's time to take action.

On Saturday, she organized a cleanup event throughout District 12 to remove illegally dumped tires.

On Monday, she hopes to introduce a resolution to find new ways to tackle the problem.

Sheperd wants to track the money the state is receiving to pay for cleanup efforts to see where it's really going and create a study to figure out how to better go after businesses and individuals who dump the tires.

"We shouldn't be having to do this. We should change the state law to see how to get rid of these tires and make people accountable, really come down on them and be tough in terms of this. But here we are every year," Sheperd told Channel 2's Rebecca Lindstrom.

Sheperd said she has to take money away from other needs in her district to pay for the cleanup.

She said she has spent nearly $20,000 in the past two years.

On Saturday, the city picked up more than 300 tires. Sheperd says the city can't go on private property to remove the tires, so volunteers started at about 9 a.m. pushing them off abandoned lots and into the streets.

Sheperd said she believes they're being dumped by small businesses that don't want to pay to throw them away. Homeowners said the tires invite mosquitoes, rats and snakes, and cause a safety hazard for kids.

Aretha Cuevas-Torres said homeowners in southeast Atlanta's Hammond Park neighborhood try to report illegal dumping.

But she‘s beginning to wonder, without tougher enforcement if it‘s doing any good. Cuevas-Torres said a neighbor called police when he saw a group of men dumping tires near his house.

"They gave them a verbal warning to remove the tires or they would come back and issue them a citation." Cuevas-Torres said the men did pick the tires back up, but only to dump them again about a half-a-mile down the road.

Every time you buy a tire, you pay a fee to help with cleanup efforts, but Sheperd said with the state's budget crunch, the money has been diverted.

According to an online report by the Department of Natural Resources, lawmakers took money from the fund in 2004, 2005, and 2009.

In 2009 there was only enough money left over to issue three grants, none of them to metro Atlanta communities.

Sheperd said the funding situation hasn't improved since that report, "unfortunately the state is broke, so what the state has been doing is taking that money and putting it back into the general fund."