Money Watchers: Turning trash fines into cash for cities and towns

State Sen. Hanna Gallo is the prime sponsor of a bill that aims to make people pay if they litter.

She said she believes local municipalities, those who enforce the law and issue the tickets, should benefit.

"The law is already on the books, but the localities usually don't enforce it and they have no incentive," said Gallo, a Cranston Democrat.

The Money Watchers determined few citations for littering have been issued.

In Pawtucket, just 9 citations were issued in 2013, and just two so far this year. Three littering citations were issued in Warwick so far in 2014.

The bill creates a fiscal incentive instead of just creating extra work for local municipalities. The measure is separate from one in which the fines are in the thousands for bigger items, like mattresses dumped in empty lots.

"So, this would help, hopefully, to get the communities to get some revenues in their communities and to use it within the community," Gallo said.

The fines for littering would be between $85 and $500 for the first offense, and between $300 and $500 for the second offense.

Fines collected would go into the general fund, and then 30 percent would be paid back to the local law enforcement agency that collected it with payments made every three months.

"It's about respecting the community," Gallo said.

The House passed a companion bill. The measure has been sent to the governor for his action.