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Court of Appeals says "no" to Flint's request to appeal water rate ruling

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The Michigan Court of Appeals has dealt a blow to Flint’s legal fight against an order to lower city water rates.

The Court of Appeals turned down the city’s request to appeal an August ruling by Judge Archie Hayman. 

Hayman ordered the city to roll back a 2011 water rate increase. He found Flint leaders violated city ordinances by imposing the 35% increase in water and sewer bills. That increase was eliminated this month, and city officials have warned the lower revenues could spell financial disaster for Flint.

City officials say the rollback will cut city revenues by $7 million this year. They also say there has been a decline in people paying their water and sewer bills, which could result in the loss of another $7 million.

The ruling also directed the city to repay the city water fund $15 million taken in 2007, and told city officials to stop disconnecting customers who have become delinquent on their bills.

At the time, Flint's city attorney warned the ruling would have a “devastating financial impact."  

"While we are disappointed with the court’s decision to deny a stay in the case, we will continue to comply with the preliminary injunction as ordered by Judge Hayman," says Natasha Henderson, Flint city administrator.

Attorney Valdemar Washington says the city has exhausted its “appellate remedies” at this point.

Flint's city attorney sees it differently.

“This was a procedural decision by the Court, meaning the Court held that it is premature 
to consider the City’s appeal," says Peter Bade, Flint city attorney, "It was not a decision on the merits of the case."

Washington and the city attorney have met once at Judge Hayman’s direction to discuss a possible settlement.  

Meanwhile, a separate class action lawsuit against the city is also moving forward. The class action suit may result in the city having to compensate tens of thousands of Flint water and sewer customers for money paid as part of the 2011 rate hike.   

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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