Tryon considers new septic tank policy

Published 10:45 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Town of Tryon is considering changing its policy regarding pumping septic tanks belonging to in-town residents who do not have city sewer.

Currently Tryon pays to have septic tanks pumped out, but is now questioning if that service should continue if the residents don’t pay a sewer fee.

Council met Nov. 20 and discussed the possible change to the ordinance but did not make any concrete decisions on how to handle septic tanks.

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Tryon Town Manager Caitlin Martin said the town pays for in-city limit septic tanks estimated by town public works director Joel Burrell at about $250 per tank.

Martin said there are approximately 150 Tryon residents who are not on town sewer.

The town’s ordinance mandates if sewer runs close enough to a property the resident must tie on. Tryon’s problem is there are several areas that sewer is not close by. The town has also faced an issue in recent years of residents discovering they have been paying for sewer for years without being connected to the town’s service.

Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said he has a problem pumping someone’s sewer if they aren’t paying any type of sewer fee.

Other council members mentioned an issue with some septic tanks having to be pumped out too often.

Councilman Roy Miller said the town should only pump out a septic tank once or twice every 10 to 20 years.

Councilman George Baker said he agreed that it’s a different situation if the drain fill is faulty.

Council also discussed the issue of residents paying for sewer who don’t have town sewer. Miller said there’s currently a renter whose been paying for sewer for years. The town has now hooked up the residence to sewer but the question now is who is reimbursed; the renter or the landlord or if any reimbursement should be issued.

The town has experienced two residents since last year that discovered they’d been paying for sewer but actually had a septic tank. The first case was a woman who had been paying for sewer for approximately 21 years. State law says a town can reimburse the last two years of service, but Tryon decided to reimburse her for the past five years.

The town also hooked the woman up to town sewer at no charge. The next case was discovered this year with a renter. The town has discussed creating a new policy regarding reimbursement since the second case involved the renter paying approximately $1,300 for sewer service over a few years and it costs approximately the same for the town to connect a residence to sewer. A sewer tap in Tryon is $850 plus the costs of pipe and labor.

Baker said last month he thinks the town should get out of reimbursing residents for sewer fees and has no problem hooking them up to town sewer for free.

Council directed town staff to draft an ordinance with a new policy concerning pumping septic tanks. Martin said this week she is still working on the ordinance and council plans to discuss the proposed ordinance during its Dec. 18 meeting.