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Lynchburg is moving to activate a new state law allowing it to charge methamphetamine makers for the cost of meth lab cleanups.

Meth lab busts are infrequent in Lynchburg, but the police department said the public shouldn’t be stuck with the cost of mopping up the aftermath.

“Most of these scenes at meth labs cost thousands of dollars in cleanup because of the nature of the chemicals involved,” Capt. Ryan Zuidema, department spokesman, said. “We don’t think the taxpayers should have to cover that when it was something a criminal act caused.”

Earlier this year, the General Assembly adopted a measure allowing localities to pass the cleanup costs onto those convicted of being involved with the lab. The people must be convicted of meth manufacturing and only can be billed for the actual costs incurred to clean up and repair the property.

Federal grants used to be available through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to help localities cope with these costs, but that funding was cut off last year.

Lynchburg’s last bust of a suspected meth lab was in April 2011. At the time, the city reported it was paying a hazmat specialist $1,572 to clear the site.

Zuidema said the incident ended up costing about $3,000 for cleanup and police response costs. No charges were filed in the incident.

The city footed the entire bill.

Lynchburg had another meth lab bust in 2009, Zuidema said. Cleanup costs in that case were not immediately available.

Tuesday, City Council will be asked to adopt a local ordinance allowing the city to use its new state-granted billing authority.

The one-paragraph ordinance incorporates the state law into city code. If adopted, it would take effect immediately.

Council will consider the matter during a 7:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall, 900 Church St.

Council’s normal afternoon work session has been canceled as several officials are in Williamsburg for the Virginia Municipal League’s annual conference and will just be returning today.

Other items on the 7:30 p.m. agenda include appropriating $3.48 million for the design of the future Heritage High School project.

The money will be pulled from a $4.1 million reserve council has built up for the project. The city aims to either heavily renovate or completely rebuild Heritage by 2018.

Lynchburg City School Board has hired Moseley Architects P.C. to study the options and draw up the final design. The firm is expected to have a recommendation on the renovation versus rebuild question by late fall of this year.



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