Get rid of over 200 pounds of rubbish for just $5?
Yep. That’s the minimum charge to dump trash at the Buckhead Mesa Landfill, which sits on 51 acres of land across from the Tonto Natural Bridge.
Close to town and cheap, how does it get any better?
“I’ve seen some families bring in their household trash once per month and pay just $5 to remove everything,” said Bill Williams, manager of operations at the landfill.
Except some folks seem to prefer dumping in the forest. Payson Ranger Rachel Hohl said every community in the area has forest areas full of mattresses, appliances, construction trash, tires and brush.
“I’ve been 30 miles out on horseback believing I’m in God’s country and then I’ll see trash,” said Williams.
Many of the items dumped in the forest may be removed for free or a minor fee at the landfill.
Items the landfill accepts for free include: paper and cardboard, up to five gallons of used motor oil and car batteries, in addition to five tires per licensed driver.
Residential and household trash, green waste, construction, demolition, metal and mixed loads all charge a minimum of $5 for 200 pounds and about a cent for each additional pound.
“I rarely see families pay over $5 a load,” said Candy Brooks, fiscal coordinator and waste tire administrator at the landfill.
Brooks sits in the admissions booth where customers see her cheerful face when they drive into the landfill. She weighs loads pre- and post-dumping to figure the charge. She will also answer any questions and direct customers where to go.
“All of our staff are friendly and helpful,” said Sharon Winters, Manager of Gila County’s recycling and landfill management.
Winters explained that at every station staff members offer aid to clients from removing trash from their vehicles to answering any questions.
Besides helpful staff, landfill hours of operation, Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., offer plenty of time for people to drop off garbage.
Opened in 1989 and slated to remain open until 2020, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality approves the landfill, but Gila County manages the operations.
“Unlike other county works, we do not receive tax dollars,” said Winters, “We’re funded by the customers who use our facilities.”
Besides individuals, larger garbage companies such as Waste Matters contract with the landfill to dump waste they collect from homes.
Gila County Public Works not only manages the Buckhead Mesa Landfill, it manages landfills throughout the county. At all the locations, the management works to improve the community.
“We recycle aluminum cans for the Humane Society,” said Brooks. “We just gave them $1,000.”
Winters manages the recycled bike program. Throughout the year, she collects cast-off bikes, refurbishes them with the help of Gila prisons and distributes them throughout the county.
“We gave away 120 bikes last year,” she said.
Partnering with local communities throughout the Rim Country, the Recycling and Landfill Management team manages the large containers placed in the parking lot of Walmart, near Green Valley Park, in Pine and Tonto Basin. The landfill also hosts numerous events so residents may remove different sorts of debris.