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Flint won't charge residents for previously unmetered water use

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint residents surprised by a recent big water bill are getting some relief.

In the past, aging meters forced the city to estimate how much water people were using.

The city of Flint is using $9.2 millionin federal money from the city’s water crisis to install 26,000 new water meters. About 5,000 meters have been replaced so far.

It turns out some Flint residents have been using more water than the city was estimating. In some cases, the under billing dated back months or years.  The city estimates about 4% of homes with new meters had been undercharged.   

So the city used the new data to retroactively reestimate residents’ old water bills, creating balloon payments in the hundreds of dollars.

After complaints, Mayor Sheldon Neeley says Flint will stop charging for water use the old meters didn't catch. The city will also give a credit to residents if the new meters find they have been overcharged in the past.

“Even though we are a cash strapped city, we have to be a compassionate city” says Neeley. “We have to be a caring city for the residents that we serve.”

Neeley says residents will still be expected to pay their current water bills.

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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