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Flint water rates to be reviewed

The rates Flint residents pay for water are going to be reviewed. 

Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley says he plans to bring in a third party consultant to examine the city’s water rates. Earley says it would be the first such review in a decade.

“The rates that you charge for a service should cover the costs of providing the service,” says Earley, “Most businesses, if their costs don’t cover the cost of the being in business, go out of business.”

Since 2011, Flint water and sewer customers have seen their rates more than double.   A lawsuit was filed by Flint’s city council president.  Councilman Scott Kincaid and three other plaintiffs claimed money from the rate increase was being spent improperly.    A judge tossed out the lawsuit this past June.  Still, many Flint residents complain the rates are too high.

Flint city finance director Jerry Ambrose concedes the city’s water rates have soared.

“But unfortunately, it’s the kind of adjustments that had to be made to begin to restore stability to the system,” says Ambrose. 

The rate study will include the long term costs related to theKaregnondi Water Authority pipeline.  Construction of the KWA pipeline began this summer. The pipeline will tap Lake Huron, to provide a new source of drinking water to Genesee and a few other Michigan counties. The city of Flint signed on to the pipeline project earlier this year. Flint has been getting its tap water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department for many years, but the rising cost of the DWSD water prompted Flint officials to look elsewhere. 

Earley says he has been getting quotes from potential consultants. He hopes to hire a firm to conduct the review and complete it by the end of the year. He hopes a transparent analysis of the rate will quiet discontent concerning Flint’s water and sewer service.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio 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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