Free Landfills Would Make For Cleaner Forests

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As a former bureaucrat, I am always puzzled as to the short-sightedness of those of us in government.

I do believe that the purpose for the establishment of community landfills was to provide for a collective and convenient point at which citizens could dispose of much of the waste that has become such an integral part of our lives. By doing so, we eliminate the situation whereby that waste was either burned on site or disposed of indiscriminately, creating untold health hazards and unsightly litter.

Since there is always a cost associated with any service provided to the citizenry by the government, taxes were levied to cover the cost of these landfills.

In the past several years, for various stated reasons, the costs of operating community landfills have been offset not with the required tax increase shudder to think of the political ramifications but with increasingly higher user fees.

Ask anyone who has lived in the Rim country for any period of time, and they can tell you of the result of this short-sighted approach to dealing with community waste.

The Tonto, Coconino and other national forests that surround us have become the landfill that those who either will not, or cannot, pay the user fees set over and above our existing county taxes. That the Forest Service is incapable of policing such activity is readily apparent to anyone who visits our local forests.I have had long-time residents tell me that when the landfill was free, you never saw any of the trash dumped in the forest that is prevalent today.

Now that begs the question, if there were an incentive no fee as opposed to a disincentive a user fee to use the community landfill, would we then see less dumping of trash in our local forests and vacant land? I suspect that past history supports the premise that we would. Anyone who has seen these dumps in the forest knows that the individuals who did it had to travel farther and go to more trouble to dump there in the forest than they would have had they used the easy-to-access landfill.

For my fellow bureaucrats to dodge the political heat of increased taxes to the community at large to cover the increased costs associated with the operations of the community landfill is ignoring the usefulness that landfills provide to the entire community, not just to those who utilize it more often than others.

We all benefit from a tidier, cleaner, healthier community and we should all shoulder the burden for the costs toward that objective. And our forests would be a much prettier place to visit.

Ron Hamric, Pine

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