RIDGELAND, Miss. (WJTV) – Ridgeland Public Works Director Alan Hart recently highlighted the consequences of litter not only in the city, but throughout the state of Mississippi.

It’s well-known that litter affects the environment. However, it also provides a breeding ground for bacteria, insects, rodents and other pests. It can also be physically harmful to pets and other animals. Litter ultimately becomes a cost that tax-payers are left with.

“It’s frustrating that tax-payer dollars are being spent to combat something that is completely preventable,” said Hart.

He said it takes a large amount of time and preparation to get litter picked up. If inmates pick up trash, they have to be scheduled weeks in advance. Police officers have to be scheduled during their time off and paid over time. When inmates aren’t available, city maintenance workers have to be used. Hart said the last crew picked up over 300 bags of litter, costing the city $5,700 for their labor.

According to Hart, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) spends millions every year to pick up litter throughout the state. MDOT research shows that 62% of litter in Mississippi is deliberate and males appear to be responsible for 72% of deliberate littering and 89% of all accidental littering. It’s estimated that 38% of all littering comes from truck beds.

Likewise, a survey conducted by Keep America Beautiful showed that 55% of realtors said litter can reduce a property values by nine-percent. It is also estimated that 60% of property appraisers will reduce a home’s value if nearby property is littered.

“If you witness a deliberate violation of state litter laws, we encourage you to obtain a license plate number and contact the Ridgeland Police Department,” said Ridgeland Police Chief John Neal.