Georgetown, Del., June 5, 2018: Sussex County is tossing out some cash to take out the trash on roadside litter problems in the community.
County officials on Tuesday, June 5, announced a new partnership with the Delaware Department of Correction and the Delaware Department of Transportation to allocate County funds that will boost cleanup efforts already undertaken by the State on the more-than-2,300 miles of roadway in southern Delaware.
Under the agreement, the County will pay up to $120,000 annually to cover the overtime costs for Delaware correctional officers to supervise inmate work crews on supplemental cleanup jobs. Those work details will be in addition to the routine litter cleanup already performed by the DOC and/or DelDOT and funded by the State, and will be on an as-needed basis that is driven by constituent complaints. Meantime, DelDOT will provide logistical support in the form of garbage bags and pickup once crews have cleaned a roadway.
The partnership focuses additional dollars and manpower to an issue that has long attracted more than just flies and unsightliness, but the ire of the general public and public officials alike. Unfortunately, because of the county’s large, rural nature in many parts, keeping properties free of debris and refuse, as well as catching violators in the act, often has proven difficult.
“Sussex County lacks jurisdiction over the matter and has no program of its own for the purposes of prevention, collection or enforcement of roadside litter,” said Michael Costello, the County’s government affairs manager who, at County Council’s request, spearheaded the effort to develop a partnership with the State. “Partnering with those agencies that already have programs in place by providing support that increases operations seems to make the most sense. We all want a cleaner environment, and this project is our way of contributing to that end.”
While illegal dumping is a violation of Delaware law, and litter along roadways is within the jurisdiction of the State, Sussex County government has nonetheless heard countless complaints from the public over the years. County officials initiated this agreement and other past efforts, including a reward-for-tips initiative in 2015, to complement State agencies’ efforts in battling the trash issue.
The details of the agreement are spelled out in a memorandum of understanding approved by both the County and the participating State agencies, Mr. Costello said.
Department of Correction Commissioner Perry Phelps said the partnership with the County will provide correctional officers an opportunity to earn extra overtime, while giving inmates a productive means to contribute to the community.
“We are happy to do our part helping to clean up Sussex County,” Commissioner Phelps said. “This partnership will give low risk offenders an opportunity to give back to the community, turning roadside eyesores into something they and all citizens can be proud of.”
Added DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, “Litter and illegal dumping continues to be a pervasive issue along our roads in Sussex County, and I’m grateful to Commissioner Phelps and County Council for helping us address this problem. In addition, I would encourage any group that wants to join this effort to consider becoming part of our Adopt-A-Highway program.”
County Council President Michael H. Vincent said the agreement is a bold step in addressing a common refrain he and other elected officials hear from their constituents in the county.
“Unfortunately, this a societal issue, and it’s a shame that some people just don’t take pride in the community or have respect for their neighbors,” Mr. Vincent said. “And it’s unfortunate that others have to pay the price for someone else’s disregard. But complaining about the issue alone doesn’t solve the problem. I’m proud that the County and the State are able to come together, for the public’s benefit, to do what we can to keep Sussex County green and clean.”
For more information or to report an issue with roadside littering in Sussex County, visit sussexcountyde.gov/litter-report.