Litterbugs costing taxpayers big bucks

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — When you litter, you’re not only creating an eyesore; it also costs all of us big bucks.

Litter is such a problem in one county, it has prompted Hanover to crack down on litterbugs.

8News did some digging and found the problem isn’t limited to Hanover. We found counties in Central Virginia are spending millions of tax dollars picking up the trash you toss.

In Hanover County, it wasn’t hard to spot litter. We found a notebook tossed in the middle of the street, soda cans, tires and cigarette butts. We also found a couch dumped on the side of Route 653.

That kind of littering has led the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and The Department of Public Works to launch a litter enforcement campaign.

“Our entire community can get behind something like this because it affects everybody because truly nobody wants to see trash on the roadways,” Sergeant James Cooper with the sheriff’s office said.

Hanover County is handing out litter bags and ashtrays for the car. On the roadways, signs have been posted, warning, “use your ashtray, not the roadway.”

The Sheriff’s Office is also stepping up patrols and driving home the message.

“Many people will think littering is a victim-less crime, that’s not true,” Sgt. Cooper said. “It’s actually a very costly issue throughout the county.”

In 2016, Hanover collected 374,000 pounds of litter. That cost Hanover taxpayers more than $69,000.

8News checked in with other counties in the region. We found in Chesterfield, the county spent $356,000 on picking up litter at major intersections and secondary roads. That doesn’t even include all the community outreach programs and volunteers picking up trash.

Last year, those programs alone collected more than 232-thousand pounds of litter.

In fiscal year 2016, Henrico County taxpayers forked over $2.5 million dollars for crews to clear the roadways of litter.

“It is our goal right now to reduce the cost of litter collection throughout the county which will save our citizens a lot of money,” Sgt Cooper said.

The litter enforcement campaign runs through the month.  The county is driving home the message on social media using the #EveryLitterBitHurts.

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