Delaware city officials say water, sewer and trash collection bills will increase more than $16 a month in the next three years, and most of the increase is the federal government's fault.

Delaware city officials say water, sewer and trash collection bills will increase more than $16 a month in the next three years, and most of the increase is the federal government's fault.

Delaware city manager Tom Homan said new federally mandated water quality standards will take effect Oct. 1, 2013, as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To meet those requirements, the city must conduct improvements to its water system that will cost $30-million.

The city used grant funds to fund the last upgrade to the system in the 1970s and 1980s.

This year, however, the city was turned down when it applied for stimulus funds being administered by the Ohio EPA.

Homan said that happened because the Ohio EPA considers Delaware a wealthy county, and does not recognize that the city is less affluent.

City finance director Dean Stelzer told the council the city can borrow the money and then add a "water debt" category to utility bills, beginning in 2010, to repay the bonds.

The average utility bill for water, sewer, trash collection and storm sewer this year is $88.24 a month. Adding the water debt to already projected increases for those utilities would increase bills by $5.38 a month in 2010, $5.61 in 2011 and $5.61 in 2012, based on Stelzer's calculations.

Council member Lisa Keller asked Homan if they had "exhausted all sources" of grant money.

Homan said the city probably has but is continuing to look to see if any money is available for the four projects that make up the needed improvements.

The council met with Ohio Rep. Kris Jordan the following morning to talk about state and local issues and raised that question with him

When told about being turned down for stimulus funds, Jordan said, "It sounds like government gone wild. ... What they are doing is turning you into the tax collector for something they want ... it's another unfunded mandate."

Jordan said he would talk to state EPA officials and would also talk to U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi.

At the May 28 meeting, council member Andrew Brush said no one wants to delay the projects and risk sanctions and fines by not complying with the 2013 deadline.

He said the city has its work cut out to make sure the rate payers know why the projects are needed and why they must pay for them

Some ideas mentioned included holding meetings at schools or other buildings in different parts of the city and including information with utility bills.

Any informational program should begin soon, Stelzer said, because the first project -- installation of the Hills Miller 24 inch waterline -- is scheduled to begin in October.