DELTA, Ohio - Village Council, reversing two previous decisions, voted unanimously last night to impose water rate increases that will raise the average consumer's bill about 50 percent.
"We had little choice," Councilman Rose Butz said. "We tried to explore other avenues."
Without an infusion of revenue, the village's two-year-old water plant was facing bankruptcy, Mayor Dan Miller said.
The plant operated at a $250,000 deficit last year. Debt service on the $6.4 million plant costs the community $360,000 annually.
The water fund balance has dwindled to less than $33,000, Mayor Miller said.
The rate increase will generate an additional $300,000 annually.
It will boost the average Delta resident's monthly water bill to $53.67.
Customers in the portions of York and Swan Creek townships served by the plant will see rates climb to an average of $72.85, according to village Administrator Derek K. Allen.
Village Council has been reviewing legislation to raise rates since June, twice voting against an increase.
Councilman Keith Lantz said concerns that funding problems could lead to layoffs at the police department prompted him to throw his support behind the legislation.
He said he opposed votes on July 24 and Aug 4 because he felt those managing the water plant lacked accountability.
"I still think there needs to be accountability," he said. "I don't want the police department to be affected."
The village was making plans to eliminate leaf collection, reduce tree-trimming, and cut back on overtime if the legislation failed, Mayor Miller said.
"It's been stressful the last few months," he said. "Hopefully, it's not too late to save the water fund."
The changes will take effect in 30 days.
All water consumers will pay a $15.30 service charge under the new rate structure.
Usage rates also will change to $3.70 per 100 cubic feet for village residents and $5.55 per 100 cubic feet for township residents.
Last year, water consumers paid between $1.43 and $16.32 per 100 cubic feet on a sliding scale, with no service charge.
Village residents also support the plant with one-third of their 1.5 percent income tax.