Southampton plans a cleanup fund
Southampton Town officials are planning to create a special blight mitigation fund to pay for litter cleanup on town land.
Officials say they will use about $18,000 taken from town justice court revenue to combat what they call a worsening problem. The money represents 1 percent of the funds raised by the court, after state fees are paid, according to Assistant Town Attorney Carl Benincasa.
"We see this as a growing need. A lot of debris are left on town properties, and we have only limited funds [for cleanup] . . . this is a way of cleaning up the town without being a burden to the taxpayer."
The town board will hold a public hearing on creating the special fund at its meeting Tuesday at 1 p.m., and also could vote to adopt the plan.
The board will also hold a related hearing at the same meeting on a proposal to increase penalties for violating the part of the town code dealing with property maintenance.
Southampton, like other towns, already has the power to go onto private property and clean up, with the costs added to a property owner's tax bill. But that process requires lengthy notice, specific approval by the town board, and, typically, property owners are given several chances to clean up before the town does the work.
Often, houses and lots cleaned up this way have become a neighborhood hazard, with the owner unable to be located or the estate unable to be settled.
The cleanup fund being proposed by the town would deal with smaller littering problems on trails in town parks or handbills left on the town right of way. It would not apply to privately owned property.