Septic, Grease Removal Cost Could Double

Expanding sanitary district facilities would cost $2.5 million, officials say

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The price to remove septic and grease trap waste in Payson will likely double from about $270 to more than $500 after July 1, the latest increase to hit Payson businesses.

That's what Charlie Hall, owner of Wrangler Plumbing, said of the sanitary district's plans to stop accepting those waste products on July 1.

The norm for the past 20 years has been for the district to accept those waste products. A recent announcement from the district said that due to various district concerns along with population growth, they would no longer provide the service.

Joel Goode, general manager for the sanitary district, said the Buckhead Mesa Landfill's operating permits from the state and federal government don't allow it to take liquid waste.

It was because of those restrictions the sanitary district board agreed to provide disposal services.

He said the district looked into expanding the facility's capacity, but it would have put their budget $2.5 million in the red. Therefore they chose not to because it was not in the rate-payers' best interests since many of customers of area septic waste haulers don't live in or pay sanitary district fees.

He said that in February the sanitary district had an initial meeting to inform septic hauling companies in Payson of the policy change.

"We didn't just want to shut them down without trying to help them find an alternative solution," Goode said.

He said at that time the district made the proposal that if area haulers could come together and build a facility of their own the district might consider a partnership of sorts.

"If they (septic haulers in Payson) would do that and we could determine that the waste products had been sufficiently filtered and cleaned so that the water is considered safe, we would then consider entering into an agreement where they could pay to discharge their water into the district's system," he said.

Some business owners in Rim Country do not think the sanitary district went far enough to try and help them.

"This is going to be a hardship on everyone. People with septic tanks and restaurants," Hall said.

Hall provides both septic and grease trap waste removal to Payson residents and businesses.

The problem septic and grease trap removal companies face is where will they take the waste after June 30 and how much disposal will cost.

Hall said he will now have to purchase another semi truck and tanker along with hiring an additional driver to haul the waste to Globe.

Hall charges $270 per 1,000 gallons to drain a septic tank and said the price will likely double due to additional costs.

He charges the same price to remove grease trap waste and said that price would likely double as well.

"As of July 1 we have to take it to Globe. And it doesn't look like the county is going to help us on this," Hall said.

"We've asked the sanitary district to reconsider, but they seem pretty adamant about it," he added.

Hall said he would stay in the business regardless because he has been in the area for 30 years providing plumbing and waste hauling services and his customers depend on him.

Wrangler Plumbing is one of only four companies listed in the Payson phone book who provide the service.

The owner of Gerardo's' Italian Bistro on Highway 87 said he is not happy with the planned change.

"This is not good for Payson," said Gerardo Moceri.

He said he thinks the sanitary district's plans are counterproductive to local businesses.

"We all lose in this," Moceri said. "I feel sorry for Charlie (Hall), he's going to have to buy new trucks and equipment, pay more for gas to take the waste somewhere else, and I am going to have to pay more to have the grease taken away."

He said he intends to keep prices at Gerardo's Italian Bistro as low as possible, but he might be forced to make some revisions to the menu.

"Some things (menu items) will drop and some will go up, it's hard to tell right now," he said.

He said it is important to be loyal to the community and his customers, so he will strive to keep prices low and offer the same quality menu items.

Moceri's loyalty is heartfelt, but the sanitary district's plans pose economic issues for him. He already pays a fuel surcharge for produce delivery from the Valley.

He said he recently got a clue that the coming change was on the near horizon.

"I knew something was up when this guy from Peoria showed up on the doorstep of my restaurant wanting my grease trap disposal business," he said.

On the other hand, one of the staff at the Cool Pines Café in Pine said the change would not affect the restaurant at all.

"We have a guy who comes from Phoenix to pick up our grease," she said.

"He brings us a big container that we pour all of the used grease for our french fries and other fried foods into and we pay $50 each time he comes to pick it up," she added.

The pick-up is about three or four times a month.

Cool Pines Café has always disposed of its grease trap waste that way, the staff member said.

"When that's the only way you have to get rid of it, I guess that's what you have to do," she said.

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