Kent County Levy Court commissioners have tentatively approved an increase in the fee charged when it must go in and clean up private properties. The final vote will be April 27.

Levy Court commissioners, gathered April 20 in their biweekly committee sessions, approved a change in what the county charges if it needs to go in and clean up private properties.

Currently the county can order private landlords to cut weeds and grass and to clean up their property if plant growth is greater than 12 inches. If the landowners fail to comply within five days, the county can use a private contractor to go in and clean up the property, with the costs billed to the owner.

As it now stands, the county charges a flat $75 per hour fee plus an administrative fee of $25.

Under the change, the administrative fee will go up to $50, with the per hour fee set annually by the county.

Director of the Department of Planning Services Sarah Keifer said her office has requested contract bids from a number of private firms and that the hourly rate will not be determined until after those bids are received in May.

Commissioners also agreed to an accord with the Delaware Geological Survey to continue monitoring water quality in the Murderkill River. The monitoring station is near Frederica and upstream from the county’s wastewater treatment facility. It will be used to keep track of oxygen content, acidity and alkalinity factors and so forth, which will allow that data to be compared to a similar monitoring station downstream near Bowers.

The information will determine what the waste treatment plant is putting in the water and help set limits on the amount of contaminants allowed in the river. The $50,000 per year agreement runs through May 2015; money from the county’s contingency fund will pay for the project.

In a similar vein, commissioners agreed to award Envirocorp Labs of Harrington a one-year contract, with an extension option for up to two years. The county will use the lab to perform chemical tests and nutrient testing not available at its own facilities.

The commissioners will hold their next business meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 27, in the Kent County Administrative Complex, 555 Bay Road, Dover.

In addition to the above items, commissioners will take a final vote on the county’s 2011 budget.