court donation boxes Larry Black Sara Clark

Ringgold City Council members Larry Black (left) and Sara Clark discuss the issue of unauthorized donation boxes in down during the Jan. 28 meeting. / Adam Cook

Ringgold officials would like the issue of unauthorized donation boxes popping up in town to be handled in city court instead of in Catoosa County Superior Court.

In September, Ringgold’s City Council had several public discussions about the ongoing issue of companies placing unauthorized donation boxes in town on commercial and private property.

During the most recent meeting on Jan. 28, the council again placed the item on the agenda and ultimately approved a resolution requesting local legislation delegation by way of amendments being made to Georgia House Bill 475.

House Bill 475 went into effect July 1, 2018 regarding charitable solicitations and the use of collection receptacles for donations.

The bill essentially created more requirements to be able to use collection receptacles for donations, and revised the penalties for violators.

Currently, governing authorities like the city of Ringgold can issue written notices for violations, but have to petition superior court for an order for the removal of receptacles.

The city’s resolution is aimed at speeding up the process so the city court can order the removal and get the unauthorized collection boxes taken away quicker.

“The issue we have is having to go to Superior Court in order to get the legal authority to have these removed,” said City Manager Dan Wright. “It’s unfortunate that if I own a commercial parking lot, especially if I’m an absent owner in South Carolina or somewhere, and these things appear; for me to get rid of them is a pretty good chore.”

Wright and the rest of the council agree that the issue isn’t with legitimate charities like the Salvation Army or Christ Chapel, but rather with for-profit companies that setup their boxes without anyone’s knowledge or consent.

“We’re trying to get it where we can bring it to city court to have them removed and everybody be on their merry way,” Wright explained. “I think that’s what we need to do now is petition our local delegation to either get in contact with the people to maybe carry a bill if they have to; to try and change that from superior court to city court.”

Councilman Larry Black was one of the officials who spearheaded discussion about the issue late last year. He says his main goal is to get the unauthorized boxes out of town as quickly as possible.

“If we have an issue with these boxes, we would like to address it in a more timely fashion,” Black said. “That’s the reason we want to have it in our city court.”

Wright explained that the city drafting and approving the resolution is the first step on the matter.

“Normally when we do this, we put it in the form of a resolution and send it down so they know y’all (the Council) are in favor of it,” Wright said.

The board unanimously approved the resolution, and now the city will wait to hear back from state officials.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.