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Flint mayor agrees with critics on water liens, but notices will still go out

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (file photo)

Many Flint residents are upset that the city has started threatening to put liens on homes that are delinquent on their water and sewer bills.

Last month, the city of Flint sent out notices to more than 8,000 water customers.  The notices advise customers to either pay their delinquent water bills, or the city will put a lien on their home.   The delinquent bills amount to nearly $6 million.   

The city says if no payment is received, the lien would transfer to the tax bill and be combined with the property tax balance.   Property owners would still have until February 28, 2018, to pay the tax balance, including the outstanding water and sewer charges. After February 2018, the liens are transferred to the county treasurer for collection. 

Many people haven’t paid their water bill because of the city’s tap water crisis. High levels of lead in the drinking water were discovered in 2015.   Many Flint residents have come to rely on free bottled water distribution rather than use filters on their taps.

Flint Congressman Dan Kildee is among those criticizing the threat of liens.

“Flint families should not have to pay for water that they still cannot drink, and they certainly should not lose their homes over this ongoing water crisis that was caused by the callous decisions of state government. It is unfortunate that Governor Snyder ended water credits for Flint families,” says Kildee. 

Mayor Karen Weaver says she agrees with those who’ve spoken out against the lien.   But she says they are required under city ordinance.

“I am working to see if any changes or something can be done to help those affected by this, especially given the extraordinary circumstances we have endured due to the water crisis,” Weaver says.  

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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