March 20, 2017 (Flint, Mich)— The City of Flint’s Interim Chief Financial Officer, David Sabuda along with staff in the Treasury Department have scheduled water services to be shut off at two apartment complexes and up to 18 residences due to customers not making payments for at least five months straight. City officials have mailed notices to customers who are in arrears for several months indicating that payment of the bill plus 10% of the past due balance is required, or their water service will be discontinued.
“We thank the residential and commercial customers who have complied with the program and are making payments,” said Mayor Karen Weaver. “I understand this is a difficult situation for many people, and we as city leaders are facing some hard decisions as well. I got in this fight because of the unfair and unjust situation that Flint residents are faced with, from high water rates to non-tap drinkable water. I understand the frustration of residents. While I was not sitting in this seat that I’m in now when this man-made disaster began, I assure residents that I have not and will not stop looking for ways to right the wrongs that have been caused, said Mayor Weaver.”
Flint utility customers who have not paid the minimum amount due, which is stated on the mailing, are incurring late charges on their accounts and are placed into the review process for the shut off list. Accounts with the highest past due balances where no recent payment has been made are at the top of the list. “It is important that these customers address their unpaid balances,” said Sabuda. “Residents and commercial account holders who do not make payments, or start working with our non-profit partners, will have their water shut off and then be required to pay 50% of the past due balance owed on the account plus shut off and turn on fees to have their water service restored.”
City staff has reviewed the first billing district and identified 18 residential customers with extremely high unpaid balances. The past due balances range between $2,500-$6,000, and in most cases no payment has been made on the account in two to three years. These customers were given notice late last week that their water will be shut off in the next week if payment is not made in the amount of the most current balance plus 10% of the past due balance, or if they do not have a case worker assisting them. In addition to the shut off notice, customers were given an information packet with details about agencies and organizations residents with severe financial challenges can turn to for help making their minimum payment. After deliberating on the matter, Mayor Weaver has granted an extension on the residential shut offs until the first week of April 2017.
“The customers in arrears know who they are and we want to give them until the first of the month to get the funds or assistance needed,” said Weaver.
Tenants at two apartment complexes, Orchard Lane Manor and Lakeside Apartments, were also notified of pending shut offs and directed to Legal Services for assistance. Records show owners of the complexes have only made one payment to the City for water/sewer services since August 2015.
“Unfortunately, we have several apartment owners who have not stepped up and instead ignored their responsibility to their tenants and our community,” said Weaver. “They are not allowed months and months of leniency on electric bills, and we cannot allow them to take advantage of the City of Flint.”
City ordinance states that no customer shall receive free water and that absent payment, water is to be turned off. The City is obligated to follow the law. Customers with financial hardships who need help paying their water/sewer bill are also urged to call the Customer Service Center at (810) 766-7015, or visit Flint City Hall to discuss payment options with a representative. Customers who make rental payments that include payments for water services, may also contact the City of Flint Law Department at (810) 766-7146 for more information. However, no legal advice will be provided.