(Flint, Mich)— As a courtesy to Flint water customers, officials halted water shut offs over the holidays and during extremely cold winter weather spells. However, in an effort to ensure the City of Flint remains financially solvent and fulfills its legal obligations, water shutoffs have resumed.
“The City is obligated by law to bill for services provided by its utility services department to maintain operation of both our water and sewer systems,” said Hughey Newsome, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Flint. “It is important to note that the bills customers receive are not just for water services, they include fees for sewer services as well. The city’s sewer system was not affected by the water crisis. Now that the City is back with the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), the City is billed for the water we receive. Therefore, the City must be able to recover costs from the water and sewer services being provided.”
Officials stress utility customers are not being asked to pay off their bills in full, only the current amount due, plus 10% of the past due balance. The City is concentrating collection efforts on accounts with extremely high past due balances first. When at risk of having service interrupted, notifications are sent to residents prior to any action being taken. Additionally, when water service is shut off, customers are currently required to pay only 50% of the balance, plus fees to have service restored.
“We are doing everything we can to work with customers,” said Newsome. “We are also working diligently to implement a variety of programs to help residents manage their water/sewer bills. Residents who have seen large account balance corrections due to old/faulty water meters may soon see relief thanks to a recently passed resolution to release state funding. Additionally, we are working to have the funding through the GLWA Water Resident Assistance Program (WRAP), designed to provide financial assistance to customers, ramped up and in place in the next month or so.”
Leaders understand the extenuating circumstances brought on by the water crisis. They also note that progress is being made, and the City is working to continue the transition from crisis to recovery.
“We know this has been frustrating for residents, it’s been frustrating for me,” said Mayor Karen Weaver. “But I want residents to know that we are working to get resources and relief in place for residents to take advantage of. We also continue to explore options to help ensure that safe and affordable water is provided long term to the people of Flint.”
Utility customers with financial hardships are urged to visit the Customer Service Center at Flint City Hall to discuss payment options with a representative. Customers with questions can also call the Customer Service Center at (810) 766-7015.