Ask The Advocate: Dilapidated homes and sky lanterns _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Crews with the Baton Rouge Department of Public Works work to demolish blighted houses in the 1400 block of Columbus Dunn Drive in Baton Rouge, Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Accumulating junk in Baton Rouge could soon become far more expensive and time consuming.

A proposal is on the table to steepen the fines for those who collect trash, debris, construction leftovers and similar material. While the current fine for a first offense is $125, two council members are pushing to raise the rate to $1,000, or 10 seven-hour days of community service spent picking up litter around Baton Rouge.

A second offense would result in a $3,000 fine or 15 seven-hour days of picking up trash. And a third offense would lead to a $5,000 fine or 20 seven-hour days picking up junk.

Blight and debris have been major issues in Baton Rouge, especially in the wake of the August 2016 floods. Lately, public officials have also connected blight to crime, saying it's important to have community cleanups. The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has also consistently pushed for Baton Rouge to have "quality of place improvements."

Felix Ezejiofo, the city code enforcement manager for blight elimination, said at a Sept. 25 blight meeting that his office often receives between 50 and 100 calls per day.

Metro Councilmen LaMont Cole and Matt Watson are pushing for the stricter penalties, and the Metro Council should vote on them later this month.

Follow Andrea Gallo on Twitter, @aegallo.​