Residents of the Baygall community started calling Bulloch County Board of Commissioners Chairman Roy Thompson last week after the Dumpsters at Rocky Ford Road and Old River Road were removed without notice.
It was Thompson's idea to remove the garbage receptacles, which are often overflowing with household refuse and bulk trash including old sofas, used tires and tree limbs, he said.
They will be replaced soon, possibly by the weekend, but Thompson said that he hopes the temporary removal caught the attention of some who have been abusing the site.
He said he has lived a short distance away from the intersection for 23 years, and he has seen the trash situation there grow worse each year - and it is costing taxpayers money.
The Dumpsters are close to a point where Bulloch meets Screven and Jenkins counties, and many people from those two counties dump their trash there as well, he said. Not only do they use the facility meant for - and paid for by - Bulloch County residents, but they also dump "old tires, refrigerators and other bulk waste," which Bulloch has to pay to haul to a landfill in Jesup.
Sometimes, out-of-county and bulk waste at the site accounts for "65 to 70 percent" of the refuse left there, he said.
Last week, Thompson posted on his personal Facebook page about the issue.
"I alone asked for the unmanned household garbage collection center (to) be closed," he wrote. "Why? As the chairman elected by the citizens, I'm trying to save tax dollars. ... I'm tired of taxpayers living in Bulloch paying for trash from other counties in the area. This has to stop! I don't want to have to raise my hand to increase taxes."
Thomson said the Dumpsters will return soon, but when they do, he hopes Bulloch residents will help combat the problem of illegal dumping.
"I need your help ...," he wrote. "All I ask (is that county residents) please take pictures or take tag numbers of those illegally dumping."
Cameras maybe placed in the area as well, but the county does not have enough environmental compliance officers to monitor each of the 11 unmanned garbage disposal areas in the county, he said. There are 18 manned recycling centers, but acquiring the land and funding to construct more of them is not feasible at this time, he said.
"We need the public's help... so these cases can be prosecuted," he wrote. "Taking these Dumpsters was an attention-getter. I wanted to see people's reactions."
While many called him to protest, a few praised the removal and said the area looks better, Thompson said. However, the majority want their dump site back.
Posting signs to inform the public that the sites are for Bulloch County residents' household garbage only have proven to be futile attempts at forced compliance, he said, adding that "it doesn't take long for them to shoot those signs up" or otherwise deface them.
However, prosecuting and fining offenders from other counties and those who dump bulk waste illegally just might help to curb the problem - and save Bulloch County taxpayers' money, he said.
Thompson asks anyone who sees someone illegally dumping garbage to snap a photo or write down the offender's tag number and vehicle description, then email the information to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those violating the county laws will be cited and prosecuted, he said.
"I've probably overstepped my bounds," he said on Monday, "but it was a decision I made on my own. Like in my own business, I look for ways to save money."
The Dumpsters will be returned, possibly by Thursday, he said.
"It was never intended for them to stay gone," Thompson said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.