Scrap tires lying in your yard and providing potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus will net you a $50 fine in Fort Wayne.
The Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health recently started fining residents who have scrap tires on their property. By March, the county had ticketed 21 households for scrap tires and sent about 50 warning letters.
The program emanates from a city ordinance concerning rodent control, a department spokeswoman said. When the department's two inspectors are in the field, they are authorized to also ticket for scrap tires, but they aren't responding to calls specifically about tires, she said.
The program is designed for the health concerns-not aesthetic problems-of scrap tires. The Fort Wayne area recorded 71 human cases of West Nile last summer, including three deaths, the spokeswoman said.
The fine-based program could be a first, said Michael Blumenthal, senior technical director of the Rubber Manufacturers Association. It also may not be addressing the core problem, he said.
``The real issue is not just to go clean up tires after they've been dumped, the issue is to get the tire out of the waste stream,'' he said.
Unlike Indiana's neighbors, Blumenthal said the state doesn't have a large market for scrap tires. Efforts to expand tire recycling, tire shredders or tire-derived manufacturing facilities have languished. In the end, he said, a lack of markets for scrap tires could make cleaning them up an unending problem.
Dave Kosiarek, owner of Tom Steele Tire Service in Fort Wayne, said there aren't many recyclers in his area, but the scrap tires find their way to other regions or states. ``It works,'' he said. ``They're being properly disposed of.''
But that wasn't the case about five years ago, he said, when many tire dealers found themselves working with disreputable haulers.
``The community has come down hard on people who have not done it the right way,'' he said.