Milford passes moratorium on sewer, water rate hikes

MILFORD — Residents of the city of Milford received some good news during last week’s meeting of city council when its members voted to place a moratorium on sewer and water rate increases for the remainder of the year due to the coronavirus crisis.

The city of Milford had previously approved increases of 4.9 percent in sewer usage rates and 3.9 percent in water usage rates on Feb. 10, which were expected to become effective on July 1.

However, since Gov. John Carney issued a state of emergency in response to COVID-19 in March, council voted last week to authorize a moratorium on the increases, which will last until Dec. 31, or until the governor announces the end of the state of emergency, should the state of emergency remain in effect past Dec. 31.

Mark Whitfield, interim city manager for Milford, said the moratorium is to try to help the community during the economic downturn with many non-essential businesses being forced to close under the governor’s orders following the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The moratorium on sewer and water rate increases did pass and will help residents get back on financial track after the COVID-19 shutdown, before facing a rate increase,” Mr. Whitfield said. “The new (increased) rates will now go into effect January 1, 2021.”

In other efforts to help its customers during the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Milford said it has temporarily suspended utility disconnects and late fees and implemented flexible credit and payment procedures to ensure all customers remain connected to essential utility services.

The Milford City Council meeting of April 13 was the first “virtual” meeting of the council.

“The virtual council meeting went very well,” Mr. Whitfield said. “We held an executive session where council called in to a separate conference line. That went well, also. Council (also) heard a staff presentation on the 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan. There was good dialogue between staff and council on the plan.

“I believe council was glad to get back to business in serving the community through their governance. We will be meeting virtually through May 15. The Planning Commission will also be meeting virtually. During the second week of May, council will be deliberating the 2021 City Budget virtually.”

Annual election

The city of Milford’s annual election originally scheduled for April 25 and rescheduled to May 9 has been postponed pursuant to the sixth modification of the Declaration of a State of Emergency for the State of Delaware due to a public health threat. Additional information will be provided once a new date can be established.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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