Graffiti on traffic signs costing taxpayers $30,000

Graffiti on traffic signs costing taxpayers $30,000
YAKIMA, Wash. -- It seems like you see it all over the place. Graffiti and gang markings cover fences, homes and buildings around Yakima. There are also plenty of traffic signs getting tagged. They could have the biggest effect on your safety.

When graffiti is on a sidewalk or a shed, it's ugly. But, when it's on city property like street signs, it becomes a safety hazard.

"You want to read 'stop,' and a lot of people, if they don't see stop, may go right though it," said taxpayer, Keenan Failing.

After several rounds of budget cuts, Streets and Traffic Director Joe Rosenlund says there are only two people in Yakima dealing with traffic signs.

"We just don't have the manpower to get out there and respond immediately to most graffiti concerns," said Rosenlund.

Rosenlund says they keep a list of the damaged signs. Then, they prioritize. Stop signs, yield signs and other warning signs get replaced first. Followed by things like parking signs.

While Rosenlund's staff always tries to clean the signs first, sometimes replacing them is the only option. And, that's not cheap. Yakima spends about $30,000 a year of your tax dollars to replace traffic signs.

"That's very important to keep them clean and not tagged up with graffiti," said Keenan. "It's not what we paid for to have that up on the corner."

If your corner sign is tagged, Rosenlund says call it in. They might not get to it tomorrow, but at least they'll know about it.

Yakima spends about a $100,000 to remove graffiti every year. That doesn't include labor. About $30,000 of that is spent on parks.