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Flint, MI– The city of Flint is starting to pursue collections of unpaid residential water bills from habitual non-payers.
If those customers don’t respond to requests for payment, the city will be sending them shutoff notices, the city’s Director of Communications Melissa Brown, said.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley first shared that the city would be pursuing collections of these delinquent accounts during a special city council meeting on Dec. 21.
“Moving into the new year, in January of this year, we will go try to collect those dollars especially after those habitual non-payers,” Neeley said.
Brown said that those remarks were in reference to habitual non-payers, who are people with “six months or more delinquent accounts.” A delinquent water account is an account that is at least 30 days past the due date, but she said that there are some delinquent residential water accounts that are a year past the due date.
The city will be requesting that these residents pay at least the current bill, as well as 10% of the past due balance, she said. Shutoff notices will be sent to those who don’t respond, but the “timeline from notice to shutoff has not been determined.”
The State of Michigan enacted a moratorium on water shutoffs on Dec. 22, 2020, to ensure that people had access to water during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the state’s moratorium expired on March 31, Neeley announced in April that the city would continue holding off on disconnecting homes from water due to lack of payment.
During the meeting on Dec. 21, Neeley said that while the administration believes “water is a human right,” pursuing the $40 million in delinquent water bills is necessary.
“If we do not collect those dollars, it could cause a bigger and larger burden on every customer that is paying into that system,” Neeley said.
Additionally, Brown said that the city is “first focused on upgrading residential water meters.”
There are approximately 4,000 residences with outdated water meters that don’t properly monitor or read water usage, she said.
Upgrading water meters is “mandatory for proper billing and monitoring to avoid any final shut-off notice.” Residents need to make an appointment to have their old meter replaced, and those with questions about this, or their water account, can call the customer service department at (810) 766-7015.
Brown said nearly 30,000 families have already received their new water meters.