Hammond council bans spending gaming money on Dumpsters

2013-02-25T22:00:00Z 2013-02-25T23:33:04Z Hammond council bans spending gaming money on DumpstersChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | The Hammond City Council on Monday approved a ban on the use of gaming dollars to fund Dumpsters, despite some council members objections.

The council members who chose to approve Dumpsters for neighborhood cleanups spent more than $350,000 from 2009 to 2011, said Councilwoman Janet Venecz, D-at large. Council members spent no money on Dumpsters in 2012, Venecz said.

“If cleanups were that important, why was it in 2012 we didn't have a Dumpster in the city of Hammond?” Venecz said. “We all survived. We all got the trash picked up.”

In supporting the ban, Venecz has continually told council members Dumpsters open the door to contractors dumping debris from rehab projects.

Venecz said residents can discard items in alleys for the Streets Department to collect and that similar concerns on trash cleanup were aired when the council instituted a scavenging ban that took effect this year.

“The contractors, whether they are licensed or not, are rehabbing some properties,” Venecz said. “They hang onto their debris and, again, when there is a Dumpster in the neighborhood, they go and dump all their debris in the Dumpsters.”

Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, argued the council should place limits on Dumpsters instead of a ban, calling the cleanups an asset to the community.

“I do agree the amount of money being spent in regards to Dumpsters is way over the limit and something should be adjusted,” Higgs said.

Earlier this month Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. told the council the city could handle collecting debris without placing the Dumpsters in the districts, some of which he said had political signs on them.

Higgs said on Monday that he never abused the system.

“I don't need to put signs on Dumpsters to get elected,” Higgs said.

Councilman Bob Markovich, D-at large, said the council could look at reinstituting a cleanup where Dumpsters were placed near city facilities on Conkey Street for community use. Markovich said College Bound students, who are required to complete community service hours to keep their scholarships, could check identification to ensure the users are Hammond residents.

The City Council passed the ban, 6-2, with Higgs and Councilman Homero “Chico” Hinojosa, D-6th, voting no. Councilman Al Salinas, D-2nd, was absent.

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