Proposal Could Make City More Attractive; Cost Taxpayers

    Would you be willing to pay more in taxes, if it meant the state- owned right of ways would be mowed more often, and litter would be picked up more frequently?
    It's a possibility Wichita Falls city councilors discussed last week.
    As it is, TxDOT only mows the right of ways inside city limits three times a year.
    Katie Crosbie joins us now with more on this proposal.
    If city councilors want to go through with this ... the city would hire several workers to constantly mow the right of ways.
    People could pick up litter as part of community service, to work off city tickets.
    But it could mean a half- cent tax hike ... meaning a hundred- thousand dollar property owner would see taxes increase five dollars for the year.

Most everyone would agree, it's not attractive.  In fact, it looks downright "trashy."  And when the grass on the right-of-way grows beyond nine inches ... Many consider *that* an eyesore, too. 

Jim Dockery
W.F. Chief Financial Officer
"Three times a year is just not up to urban-type standards. We expect our citizenry to keep their grass at heights less than nine inches -- or they're in violation of our code requirements."

City councilor Michael Smith blames much of the problem on the state legislature -- for not allocating enough funding.

Michael Smith
Wichita Falls City Councilor
"Here's another case where things they should be responsible for & are responsible for, are coming back to the local taxpayers."

It would cost about 200- thousand dollars to buy the initial mowing equipment ... Plus 170- thousand dollars annually.  Buy some trash pickup supplies and hire a warrant officer to supervise: About 50-thousand.

"It's something we really don't want to raise taxes to do -- but I would even entertain the motion of that."
City leaders say they want to send a neat, clean, message to people passing through or visiting ... Sort of a way to promote our blue skies, golden opportunities, manicured grass, and trash-free land.

"In my mind, it's a fairly limited investment in making our city more attractive, more beautiful, on a wide-scale basis. I see it being worth the money."

And remember -- nobody likes a litterbug.

"There's always that percentage - and you & I see them every day almost - who think it's okay just to throw their trash and litter out the window! They don't really think this is a cost to the city, the county, the state!"

In Wichita County, TxDOT spends nearly 230-thousand dollars a year cleaning up litter ... and about 200- thousand dollars a year hiring contractors to mow the right of way.

    And by the way, TxDOT says the "Adopt a Highway" program saves the state 34 million dollars a year.

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