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Published: Wednesday, 4/29/2009

Request seeks to defer year's payment for Delta water-treatment plant


DELTA - Delta would suspend payments on its nearly new, $6.5 million water-treatment plant for one year if a request to be sent to the Ohio Water Development Authority is granted, and the agency's head said such requests are routinely approved.

Deferring one year's payments will end up costing the village about $240,000 in additional interest, village administrator Derek Allen said. But he said that's preferable to bankrupting Delta's water fund, which faced a $233,000 payment due July 1 with only $165,000 available to pay.

"This will give us 14 months to get our water fund stabilized," Mr. Allen said, adding, "I don't think we're the only community that's having problems."

Steve Grossman, the OWDA's executive director, said that if approved by village council, a one-year payment deferral would be granted automatically. Village council passed the request April 20.

Delta completed its water plant in 2006 using water authority funds, and officials determined almost immediately after debt payments began in 2007 that the water fund was losing $250,000 a year.

The village raised rates by 50 to 150 percent for nearly all of its customers in September - all except for Worthington Steel, Delta's largest water consumer, which has a separate, long-term water contract.

Village and Worthington officials said in February they were nearing agreement on a proposal to increase the steel processor's rate by about 28 percent. But Mr. Allen said last week that the negotiations had not yet been resolved.

Resolving the Worthington matter "would be a big component" of getting the water fund back on solid ground, Mr. Allen said. An economic turnaround would also help, but water customers also could face another rate increase to balance the village utility's budget, he said.

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