HAYS—Ellis County is preparing for expansion of the county landfill, including with the purchase of 180 acres of land adjacent to its existing landfill.

The new acreage will make room for the growing amount of construction and demolition trash brought to the landfill just northwest of Hays at 1515 W. 55th St., according to county public works director Bill Ring.

The county struck a deal a year ago to buy the rocky pasture from John and Susan Karlin for $380,000 or $2,111 an acre. They wanted to sell the entire pasture, or not at all, Ring said.

"We’re doing a buy-out on it, paying him over the course of a few years. That’s how he wanted to be paid," Ring said, noting the county just made the first residual payment.

The existing landfill, a 40-acre facility in place since the 1990s, is filling up with construction and demolition trash, basically shingles, remodeling drywall, two-by-fours and other non-metal building materials from construction jobs.

"Our business has been up 20% this year," said landfill foreman Vern Ruder on Wednesday, noting the pandemic has given residents and businesses time to catch up on cleaning out and finishing up work. "We’re just running out of space."

It used to be all the city’s trash was buried at the landfill, but since 1994 a contractor has hauled all the municipal waste to Finney County, while metals and tires are recycled.

"We have room for 50 to 100 years now," said Ring, who recently asked the Hays City Commission to rezone the land from agriculture to a use that will allow a landfill.