Delaware residents could see a cost increase for water and refuse services beginning in 2023 pending an upcoming decision by City Council.
During next Monday’s meeting, council will weigh rate increases that would cost the average residential customer an additional $7 per month. The increased rates would include an approximately $5 jump for water and a $2 jump for refuse services.
Residents’ utility bills also include sewer and stormwater, but no changes are being proposed for those services.
Should the rate increases be approved by council, it would mark the first time in six years that water rates have been changed in Delaware. According to a press release from the city, the average city household of four that uses around 700 cubic feet of water currently pays about $111 per month for water, refuse, sewer and stormwater.
That user is estimated to see the total bill increase $5.17 per month for water and $2 for refuse to bring the total bill to around $118. The city cited the rising costs associated with providing the services as the reason for discussing potential increases.
“Chemicals needed to treat drinking water have increased 54 percent in the past year, and electric costs have increased 20.3 percent,” the release states. “Additionally, preventative maintenance projects at the water plant are being recommended now to avoid higher repair costs later.
“The refuse fund was evaluated a year ago, and it was projected that multi-year rate increases would be necessary to sustain operations. The recommendation is a $2 increase, for a total monthly charge of $25 per household. This would allow the city to operate refuse, recycling and yard waste pick-up operations at their current service level and replace vehicles over the next few years. The cost of these specialized vehicles has risen almost 30 percent.”
The city noted water and refuse services operate as enterprise funds, meaning they are required to be self-sustaining without utilizing money from the general budget.
Community Affairs Director Lee Yoakum said of the proposal, “These increases allow the City of Delaware to cover operating expenses and costs related to equipment and maintenance. We understand that rate increases are not popular, especially during inflationary times.”
A public hearing on the proposed rate increases is also scheduled as part of the Dec. 5 council meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held inside council chambers at City Hall.