The Copperas Cove City Council discussed a proposed ordinance Tuesday that could help curb the theft of recyclable items and hold recycling centers more accountable for the sale and purchase of such items.
After the discussion, the council decided to hold two public hearings at subsequent council meetings instead of taking immediate action on the item.
“We want more input on this from residents and any interested parties. We want to hear their thoughts on it,” Councilman Kenn Smith said. “This is going to be a major ordinance and needs all the public input we can get. We want two public hearings so that anyone who has an interest in this can be heard.”
Since November and as recently as last week, local businesses along U.S. Highway 190 in Copperas Cove reported thefts of recyclable items, including propane tanks, patio heaters and aluminum car ramps, some of which were taken to a local recycling center and sold.
Although strict state regulations are in place, the items stolen could not be traced back to the thieves. Some say it’s due to the absence of stricter standards at the local level.
Joseph O’Rourke, an active-duty chief warrant officer 3, and owner of Rising Sun RV, said he believes the added measures of the proposed ordinance would help curb the thefts and aid police in locating the thieves and stolen items.
“I fully endorse this new ordinance,” O’Rourke said. “(It) will give our city the teeth it requires to access and demand this information. If the center refuses, then they will be held accountable and face charges.”
If approved by the council during the second public hearing, the implementation of a new recycling ordinance would ensure more stringent record-keeping and reporting policies for recycling centers within the city limits. It would also impose a fee of up to $250 for the issuance or renewal of a license or permit, as allowed by the Texas Occupations Code. This would then give local police the authority to quickly identify suspects and stolen items.
Records kept on-site
According to the proposed ordinance, records must be kept on-site in a real-time electronic web-based database by the recycling center and in a form and method approved by the chief of police.
Recycling centers would have 90 days to implement all new local standards, including the addition of fingerprinting and verifiable photographs of each seller, as well as the recycled items.
Violation of the ordinance would be considered a class C misdemeanor offense and punishable with a fine of up to $2,000.
Sherry Hall, owner of Cove Recycling in Copperas Cove, said she feels the new ordinance would not deter thefts, and believes it holds her business accountable for the actions of others.
“What they’re wanting is what I’m already doing, except for the fingerprinting,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it will have an adverse affect, I just don’t feel it’s necessary. To keep up with a data base will be a waste of tax payer money.”