Flint City Council trying to slow down shut-off notices for thousands of residents

Flint City Council considering an emergency ordinance to slow hundreds of shut-offs to water customers in the city. (Photo Credit: Drew Moore/WSMH)

The City of Flint is currently shutting off approximately 100 water customers a week for past due bills.

To stem that tide, council members are considering an emergency ordinance to make it more financially reasonable to keep the water flowing.

Currently if a water customer has a past due balance, or recently receives a shut off notice, they are asked to pay ten-percent of the past due amount, plus the normal bill.

Once the water is disconnected, the customer is required to pay at least half of the balance, plus a $75 - $100 reconnection fee.

Flint City Councilman Eric Mays hopes to come up with a short-term fix, while council works on a longer-term solution.

“We need to do something right now to help these people. I’m proposing that if someone is shut off they just pay the reconnection fee, and a smaller portion of their past due bill, then continue making their monthly payment. However, if they get shut off again, then the old rules would still go into effect,” Mays says.

The problem which is well documented with Flint is that the price of the water is the highest in the country.

Chief Financial Officer Hughey Newsome shed some light on why that’s the case.

He also says it’s possible for the city to lower water rates, but it will take some time.

“We’re currently paying $12 Million a year in water, and only billing out a little over half of that. We have all of this water that isn’t being billed to someone so everyone has to pay for. We will be replacing 11,000 water meters by the end of 2019 which will help us get a handle on it. Then once more revenue starts coming in, we will be in a great place to look at lowering water rates. The problem isn’t with our pipes, the problem is with the meters,” Newsome says.

City Council hopes to make a determination on the emergency ordinance during Monday’s special affairs meeting.

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