October 28, 2016 (Flint, Mich)– Flint City officials have been working for over a month now trying to increase its collection rate on commercial utility accounts. As of today, 13 commercial utility customers owe the City of Flint more than $965,000. While the ongoing water crisis has complicated this matter, the City still provides its customers with sewer services and continues to incur costs to distribute the water being provided by the Great Lakes Water Authority. It’s no secret that the City of Flint is struggling financially, therefore revenue must be brought in for city operations to continue as needed.
The Water Relief program is still in effect providing residential customers with a 65% credit on the water charges of their utility account and commercial customers with a 20% credit. The relief is provided by the State of Michigan and includes a stipulation requiring the City to have a 70% collection rate on water/sewer bills. In order for the credits to stay in place, the City must show that customers are paying their bills as required by the state.
Unfortunately, some commercial property owners in the City appear to be taking advantage of the situation and are not paying their utility bills. Some of those are owners/managers of apartment buildings in Flint who collect rent, which includes fees for utilities, yet the utility bill for the property isn’t being paid. For example, City records show Miami Nadlan, LLC as the customer of record for three apartment complexes in Flint and owes a total of $360,346.68 in past due utility fees. Lapeer Gardens Property 770 LLC owes the City $181,019.35. This is not fair to the residents who pay their rent, and it’s not fair to the City which hasn’t been able to collect payment for the services it provides. If these and other property owners do not step up and pay some portion of their outstanding balances, City leaders feel they have no other choice than to shut off the water at the property.
“We’re not asking people to pay for water they can’t use,” said Mayor Karen Weaver. But there are sewer and some water services that are being utilized and the City needs to be paid for those. We are asking people to pay for the services that are being used, and if you are getting a rent check every month to cover those fees then that money should be used to pay them.”
City leaders stress that water shut offs at any apartment building would be an absolutely last resort. The Administration is looking at every option to prevent shut offs, including taking the landlords to court.
“Flint residents have suffered enough,” said Weaver. “They should not be penalized as a result of their landlords’ actions.”
If property owners refuse to pay their bill and this measure is taken, officials are working with community organizations to come up with a plan to help residents that may be affected.
But, if the property owners that owe the City of Flint hundreds of thousands in past due utility fees step up and pay their bills, or at least a portion of what’s owed, the unfortunate and drastic measure of conducting shut offs would be avoided and that is the outcome the Administration is hoping for.
**Note: Other commercial utility customers with high past due account balances:
Elms Mobile Home Park $112,723.64
Orchard Lane Manor, Inc $ 52,908.80
Empire Worldwide Michigan Kelvin LLC $ 45,327.42
Center Road Properties, LLC $ 38,451.24
Hallwood Plaza, Inc $ 34,548.79
Genesee Forest, LLC $ 29,395.94
Indus American, LLC $ 27,450.11
3501 Lapeer Road, LLC $ 15,258.29
Travel Inn (S. Dort Hwy) $ 11,345.49