AVON PARK — Posted prominently along Olivia and Oleander drives in Avon Park Lakes are “no dumping” signs.
But dozens of disposed tires lie are near the Olivia Drive sign and more than 100 dumped tires surround the Oleander Drive signs, along with televisions, a vacuum cleaner that is in two parts and a mattress.
James McClugage, an area resident, believes dumping has only gotten worse since Highlands County put up signs stating, “Stop illegal dumping,” and urging people to call Choice Environmental Services to pick up tires, furniture and appliances.
In fact, McClugage believes the new signs may have led people to think the roadside next to the sign is where Choice will pick up the dumped items.
The signs have pictures of tires, furniture and other items.
“They see pictures of the tires so they start throwing them out,” he said.
Highlands County Engineer Ramon Gavarrete said there is no reason people should be dumping items because they can call (863) 655-0005 and Choice will pick them up from their homes for free, he said.
When asked if illegal dumping is growing, he responded, “It isn’t getting any better.”
While areas in Avon Park Lakes have been a problem for years, illegal dumping isn’t confined there, he said.
“People are dumping all over the county,” he said. “At some of these spots, we pick up (stuff illegally dumped) all the time.”
While the dumping makes areas become unsightly, it ends up costing the taxpayers, Gavarrete said.
“Illegal dumping is costing the taxpayers in excess of $44,500 per year between the cost of (dealing with) the illegal dumps and the loss in tipping fees (the charge for taking items to the county landfill),” he said.
Gavarrete said the loss in tipping fees is about $10,500 per year and the cost of cleanup is about $30,000. The county also spends $4,000 to pay for advertisements aimed at reducing dumping, he said.
But getting the county to clean up the illegally dumped tires, televisions and other items is an issue, McClugage said.
Gavarrete said the county gets dozens of calls about illegal dumping and cannot respond immediately to each request. Twice a month, he said, he sends the county’s road and bridge department cleanup locations.
McClugage said as long as he sees illegal dumping, he’ll report it.
“I live in Avon Park Lakes and I don’t want to see this trash dumped in my backyard, he said.