The City of Flint Treasury Division has announced that water shutoffs for 30 days of nonpayment under recently adjusted water and sewer rates have resumed. Customers with outstanding bills due on September 11, 2015 will be the first to receive shutoff notices. Customers in the first cycle of overdue bills with the adjusted rates will be issued notices first.
After the preliminary injunction order issued by Circuit Court Judge Hayman in the case of Shears vs. the City of Flint, the City was required to reduce water rates and discontinue shutoffs on previously owed balances. The City then immediately ceased performing water shutoffs and began restructuring the water and sewer unit charges for all billing after the injunction. Per the orders of the preliminary injunction, the City now has the ability to resume shutoffs.
The first bills reflecting the adjusted rate were mailed to customers in September. Unpaid balances prior to the new bills being mailed in September have effectively been frozen and payments made on balances due before the injunction have been applied to the new billing table. In some cases, this has resulted in a credit being applied to customers’ bills.
The first bills issued with the reduced rates were due on September 11, 2015 and were 30 days past due on October 11. The City’s policy is to issue shutoff notices when accounts are more than 30 days past due. Customers are then given 10 days to remit payment to avoid disconnect. Over 60% of the total accounts in the first two cycles are delinquent (1,819 out of 2,993 accounts).
Due to the unusual events and the work necessary to perform accurate billing, the payment period has been extended with payment due December 1, 2015. This will result in all cycles being given over 80 days, or 2 ½ months past their original due date to pay. Regular timelines for water and sewer shutoffs will resume with processing of notices at 30 days delinquency with 10 days to remit payment after January 1, 2016.
“We are applying shutoff notices in a fair and systematic way in which those billed on the first cycle will be issued notices first,” said Chief Financial Officer Jody Lundquist. “We do understand that this situation has been out of the ordinary and could be confusing to some of our customers and therefore want to help them as best we can.”
For customers who have their water shutoff in the coming weeks, the customer service department will work very closely with the water service center to ensure that turn-ons for payment will be handled as quickly as possible. As the City has done in the past, customers can make payment arrangements to pay overdue balances.
The City will also continue to work with its partner service agencies in the Keep the Water Flowing program, including the United Way, the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities to help those eligible for assistance. “As always, we encourage customers who are having trouble paying their bill to call our customer service office in order to try and make arrangements before any shutoff notice is sent,” said Lundquist.