City Council increases fines before passing graffiti bill

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Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval today to tougher penalties for graffiti vandals, after increasing the fines they tentatively approved on Wednesday.

Now vandals can be hit with fines ranging from $250 to $1,400 per incident, depending on the amount of damage done, in addition to being compelled to remove the graffiti. Councilwoman Tonya Payne pushed for the higher fines -- up from a range of $100 to $500 approved last week -- which were unanimously approved.

The city has not previously received any money related to graffiti offenses, even though it bears much of the cost of removing the vandalism. The new fine money goes into a trust fund, administered by the director of public safety, which can be spent on graffiti removal.

"Graffiti has become a cancer on this city," said Councilman Bruce Kraus, prime author of the legislation. "It sends every wrong message" about the city's quality of life.

The legislation also demands that retailers keep paint and other potential tools of graffiti either in clear sight of employees or behind the counter, in an effort to prevent theft by would-be vandals. It now goes to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for his consideration before becoming law.


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