Delaware city officials unveiled proposed utility rate increases for 2010 at the Feb. 22 city council meeting.

Delaware city officials unveiled proposed utility rate increases for 2010 at the Feb. 22 city council meeting.

Under the proposal, the rate for water, sewer and refuse collection for the average residential customer who uses 800 cubic feet of water a month, would increase $5.38, going from $88.24 to $93.62, beginning May 1.

That would be a 6.1-percent increase, Delaware finance director Dean Stelzer said, which is less than the 9.26-percent increase in 2009.

While the sewer and refuse proposed rates are for one year, council is being asked to approve water rate increases for the next three years "in advance of starting construction of the planned water improvements" to meet new federal guidelines, Stelzer told council.

The city estimates $31-million in improvements at the city's water treatment plant are needed to meet new standards required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The city opened its water plant in 1889, and some of the original plant and transmission system still remain 120 years later, said city spokesman Lee Yoakum, including a 16-inch water transmission main. The last expansion was done in 1974 to meet new federal water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.

The city used grants to fund those upgrades but was turned down when it applied last year for stimulus funds being administered by the Ohio EPA. That leaves city water customers to pick up the tab for the mandated improvements, Yoakum said.

The new water quality standard will take effect Oct. 1, 2013. To meet those requirements, the city is planning water system projects, including new water transmission lines, a groundwater membrane processing plant and water plant rehabilitation, Yoakum said.

Work must be under way to bring the system up to the new standards prior to that date, or the city could face fines by the EPA, said Brad Stanton, the city's director of public utilities.

The council's finance committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. on March 2 to discuss the proposed rate increases and the full council will continue discussions on the increases at their 7 p.m. March 8 meeting, with a public hearing scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on March 22.

Also at the meeting, council approved an additional $27,500 for turn radius improvements at The Point project, east of the city where Central Avenue and William Street merge.

After the intersection improvements were completed last fall, it was noted some semi-truck drivers, primarily those with less driving experience, were having trouble making the eastbound turn from Central onto William, city engineering director Bill Ferrigno told council. The new work will add additional pavement at the intersection's southeast corner to allow for additional semi-truck turning movements.

Also, additional pavement is needed at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Moore Street to accommodate buses and delivery trucks, he said.

Work should begin in mid-to-late April and be done in June, he told council.