MILWAUKEE — If you litter in Milwaukee, it will cost you.
On Monday, the city announced the cost of littering will be $500. In February, Alderman Russell Stamper proposed legislation to increase the fine from $50.
"When I was growing up, we had Keep Milwaukee Beautiful," Stamper said. "We had a bunch of cans all over the community. Somewhere in the midst, they disappeared."
Stamper spoke in a vacant lot near 9th and North Avenue. The blades of grass, still recuperating after a rough winter, are intertwined with all sorts of debris.
Soda cups from the nearby McDonald's, numerous plastic bottles, even what appear to be used contraceptive items dot the landscape. The fine hopes to quell the growing amount of trash in the city.
"Milwaukee is not a trash city," Joe Wilson of Keep Milwaukee Beautiful said. "We have a lot of beautiful things that will happen in the spring."
"We've gotten away from being mindful of what our city looks like," Alderwoman Chantia Lewis said. "It has to be a collective effort with all of us because we all live here. I'm excited to say, we're taking the next step in keeping Milwaukee beautiful."
Monday's announcement isn't all talk, either. Aside from elected officials, the announcement came with law enforcement present. They say this will be enforced.
"We want people to clean up," Capt. Kristin Riestra of the Milwaukee Police Department said.
"We want a beautiful environment to work, visit and live in. We don't want to give out $500 tickets. We're instituting a $500 fine to say we're serious. We're serious about cleaning up."
"If they do litter and are caught, we are going to hold those individuals accountable with paying the fine or for working on community service to keep Milwaukee clean," Hon. Derek Mosley of the City of Milwaukee Municipal Court said.
According to Mosley, if violators cannot pay the fine, they can do community service to the tune of 10 hours per $50 fine. That works out to 100 hours of community service for littering.
"One hundred hours of community service," Stamper said. "You do 100 hours of community service, I bet you won't litter no more. I know I won't."
In addition to penalties, the city is being proactive. On April 27, from 9 a.m. to noon, Keep Milwaukee Beautiful will hold a community-wide clean-up effort at Lincoln Park. For more information, visit www.kgmb.org.