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Fewer Flint water customers are paying their bills

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Fewer and fewer people are paying their water bills in Flint. 

Flint’s water bill collections are down by $1.75 million since a judge issued an injunction in August rolling back rates and ordering an end to disconnections.

Judge Archie Hayman ruled that Flint illegally raised rates by 35% in 2011. 

In his order, the judge told the city to roll back the rate hike on future bills, stop disconnecting customers who are delinquent on the bills through August 2015, and stop placing liens on property owned by delinquent customers.

The water bills with the new rate schedule went out this month. 

Jody Lundquist is Flint’s Chief Financial Officer. She says in the month since the judge’s order took effect fewer people are paying their water bills.

“Right now, we definitely have customers that feel very strongly about the condition of the water and the lead issue,” says Lundquist, referring to recent reports showing high levels of lead in city tap water. 

Lundquist also suspects many people are taking advantage of the new grace period before water shutoffs can resume.  

The city can start sending out new shut-off notices this month as bills become pass due. 

In the meantime, the city is feeling the financial pinch.  

In addition to the number of people not paying their water bills, the court-ordered rate rollback will cost the city an estimated $7 million this fiscal year. 

“It definitely hinders not only our ability to maintain operations but it also impacts our ability to impact the lead issue,” says Lundquist. 

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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