Westerville's water, sewer and refuse-collection rates will go up Jan. 1 following a vote by city council last week.

Westerville's water, sewer and refuse-collection rates will go up Jan. 1 following a vote by city council last week.

The water rate increase will allow the city to deal with increased operating costs and to maintain infrastructure, water utility manager Dick Lorenz told Westerville City Council at its Dec. 14 meeting.

The other increases were necessary, city finance director Jack Winkel said, because the agencies that provide those services to Westerville are raising their rates.

Under a new contract with Rumpke, an increase of $1.75 per household will be in effect as of Jan. 1, Winkel said. The city of Columbus is raising the cost of sanitary-sewer treatment by 2 percent, costing the average Westerville customer an additional 74 cents per month, he said.

The water-rate increase will raise the average monthly residential bill by $1.04, though the impact on bills will depend on monthly water consumption.

Those who pay the minimum $4.45 bill would pay $4.65, a 4.5-percent increase, and the amount for the first 1,500 cubic feet of water consumption would be increased from $1.99 to $2.12, a 6.5-percent increase.

For the next 8,500 cubic feet used, users will pay $1.52, up 8.6 percent from $1.40. For every cubic foot past the 10,000 cubic feet mark, users will pay 92 cents, up 9.5 percent from 84 cents.

Those increases will raise the average monthly residential water bill from $15.92 to $16.96, Winkel said.

The rate increases will raise revenue for the water department by a projected 7 percent, or by an additional $192,000 per year.

Even with the water-rate increase, Lorenz said Westerville will maintain one of the lowest water costs in central Ohio. Residents will be notified of the increases via the city's Web site and through letters sent out with utility bills.

Also at the Dec. 14 meeting, council passed a $158.19-million total budget for 2010. The final budget reflects $1.71-million less in spending than the proposal originally presented by city staff earlier this year.

Though the 2010 budget marks a $22.23-million increase in spending over the 2009 budget, all proposed staffing increases were eliminated, a pedestrian bridge project was taken out of the capital improvement plan and the street improvement plan was reduced by $250,000.

City manager Dave Collinsworth said a modest budget is necessary because of decreased revenues in several areas, including state funding and investments, as well as a lower-than-expected collection from the city's income-tax increase.

Revenue projections could increase if the economy begins to improve, Collinsworth said, and the city will monitor that in 2010 to see if it will be possible to hire additional staff members where needed.

With the 2010 budget and five-year financial plan that was approved, Collinsworth said Westerville is set to have an estimated $400,000 positive balance at the end of fiscal year 2014.