The Mobile City Council today voted unanimously to further amend the city’s litter ordinance.

The amendment, which was sponsored by Councilman John Williams would change the language of a portion of the ordinance dealing with dumpster enclosures. Business owners will now have 40 days to erect a four-sided enclosure around a dumpster only after they been cited for an offense.

Under previous provisions, scheduled to take effect March 1, business owners with dumpsters were required to put the enclosure in place, or face a fine. Williams said the enclosures could’ve cost responsible business owners $500 to $1,000.

“It’s an undue burden,” Williams said of the provision, before his amendment was passed. “It’s kind of like punishing the entire class because of one bad kid. Let’s punish the bad kid.”

Williams said responsible business owners could theoretically spend that extra money on other things, like bonuses for employees.

In addition to the amendment proposed by Williams, Council President Gina Gregory proposed stipulating a new grace period for residents and businesses, in order to allow more time for education on the ordinance. She said she and other councilors have been getting calls from constituents, especially landlords, who are curious about provisions of the ordinance.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson said the ordinance is meant to change behavior and “any time you change behavior, you’re going to get some pushback.”

As a part of enforcement, the city can send a ticket to either the renter or the landlord.

From now until March 1, the administration agreed to write warnings for a first offense.

In other business, the council approved a series of contracts for sidewalk, guardrail and drainage repair, as part of the administration’s capital improvement plan.
The resolutions award contracts to four engineering companies for design work. Construction will be completed this fiscal year, according to a statement released Tuesday morning by Stimpson’s office.

• A.G. Gaston Construction Company received a $56,800 contract for sidewalk repairs. City Engineer Nick Amberger said there are 330 areas in the city where sidewalks need to be repaired, based on citizen complaints. Once the designs are completed, the city will work as many of the problem areas as money will allow, Amberger said.

• Neal-Schaffer, Inc. got an $87,500 contract for ditch repairs. The city plans to design and repair eight ditches, depending on the availability of funds.

• The council also approved a $101,300 contract with ECS Consulting Engineers for citywide drainage repairs, including pipelining and new pipe.

• The council also approved giving $1 million to Austal “to acquire and construct certain improvements.” The Mobile County Commission made a similar move Monday. The money will come out of the city’s economic development budget.

• The council also approved a contract with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which will increase the fee the city pays for employee health and dental coverage. The fee for health coverage will increase to $33.35 per employee from $31.75. Dental coverage will increase 10 cents to $2.20 per employee.