Youngstown city leaders held a meeting Tuesday night to come up with a new plan of action to stop illegal tire and mattress dumping.
Currently, if you’re caught illegally dumping tires in the city, you would get a misdemeanor littering charge — something leaders want to change.
So they are talking with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to start prosecuting illegal dumping as a felony. His office has an environmental justice unit and said they are more than willing to help.
If this does go through, Yost’s office would investigate a case, help prosecute the case and send lawyers to all the court hearings. The city would just have to officially refer the case to Yost’s office and provide help when needed.
Both groups said they are looking for specific offenders.
“We’re looking for the habitual business dumpers who do it to save money on purpose on a regular basis. Those are the ones we’re going to be moving forward with felony convictions, rather than working through the misdemeanor courts,” said Jennifer Jones, Youngstown’s coordinator of litter control and recycling.
One case the city is looking into is on the property of Lou’s Tires, where almost 6,000 tires were left for the landowner to take care of when the business owners were evicted.
If illegal dumping is upgraded to a felony, Jones said local lawyers and judges would need education on how to deal with those type of cases.
They also talked about the illegal dumping of mattresses at Tuesday’s meeting, which is also a big problem.
They said 95 percent of mattresses in Youngstown are illegally dumped and they want felony charges for people who do that, too.
According to Youngstown’s Litter Control and Recycling Department, the proper way to dispose of a mattress is by wrapping it in a specific mattress wrap. You can get one from the department by calling 330-744-7526.
If your mattress is not wrapped, the city can still pick up and discard it as long as it doesn’t have dirt or any signs of infestation on it. Otherwise, the city has the option to not pick it up.
“The people don’t know what to do with them,” Jones said. “Sometimes they put them out to the curb and hope they get picked up. I think other times, they just assume sanitation isn’t going to get them and so they go and illegally dump them.”
She said leaders are meeting again with the attorney general’s office on Wednesday. They hope the meeting will bring them a step closer to making illegal dumping a felony.