When Action Drain Services owner David Teeter left the Craig City Council meeting on Feb. 28, he had given a hauler's viewpoint about septic waste treatment costs, and he thought the council would raise the rate from 1 1/2 cents to 4 cents a gallon.
When the council raised the locally generated septic waste treatment cost to 8 cents a gallon, Teeter changed his expectations from passing along a small rate increase to customers, to expecting a lot of angry ones.
"Ask the county residents how they feel," Teeter said. "They're the ones getting gouged."
The rate increase goes into effect Saturday. By raising rates, in-county and out-of-county residents are affected because septic waste is processed at the city's plant.
Most city septic waste flows directly to the treatment plant, and residents and businesses are billed for that service by the city.
Teeter said he could understand if the county needed the money to process the waste. He can see wanting to eliminate the out-of-county waste coming to Moffat County. What he can't get behind is the increase to 8 cents a gallon, more than tripling the cost to county residents.
"The city's rate increase doesn't leave me any room at all to raise my rates to cover costs," Teeter said. "I'm facing rising fuel costs and trying to pay a respectable wage, but I can't make any increase after this jump in city prices."
City Councilman Terry Carwile said that the rate is comparable with surrounding towns, and the goal was to eliminate out-of-county waste and get restaurants to dump grease traps before winter.
The town of Rangely charges 10 cents a gallon for septic waste. Steamboat Springs charges 2 cents a gallon.
Councilman Joe Herod said county residents are still getting a deal.
"County septic tanks are emptied once every two or three years," Herod said. "That averages out to under $10 a month. City residents pay $15.30 a month to be on the sewer system in town."
But city residents also get sewer lines, maintenance crews and expensive camera trucks to troubleshoot problems with their sewer lines, Teeter said.
"The city crews do a really good job," Teeter said. "I just don't know why they increased to 8 cents a gallon. A fair increase would have been to 4 cents a gallon."
As an example, Teeter pointed out that the load he just hauled from the Craig Station power plant will cost him $120 more after April 1, when the new contract goes into effect.
He thinks that county residents may just quit doing maintenance on their systems if it gets too expensive.
Baggs, Wyo., residents also will be hit hard, Teeter said. Now that out-of-county dumping rates have jumped to 16 cents a gallon, Baggs residents will see a $160 dumping fee tacked onto Action Drain's $250 charge for the service.
But Herod said an extra $160 is not expensive for tanks that typically take three years to fill up.