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Consultant: 'Other approaches' needed to reduce Flint's water rates

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Consultants say cost restructuring may be needed to make Flint’s water bills more affordable.

Even before Flint water was unsafe to drink without a filter, many people tried to avoid turning on their taps because of the cost.

As Flint’s population dwindled, more of the cost of paying for the system fell on fewer and fewer people.   City officials added to the cost by siphoning off cash to pay for other city needs. Thousands of city residents either fell behind on their bills or had their water service shutoff. 

Consultant Eric Rothstein gave a presentation today to the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee. The panel is overseeing Flint’s recovery from its water crisis.   

Rothstein says he’s helped write the book on setting municipal water rates. “They don’t apply here,” says Rothstein. “We have to think about other approaches because there’s no textbook that speaks to this.”

Rothstein says in order to make Flint water bills more affordable it may be necessary to restructure some of the aging system’s costs. He adds there is a role for the state and federal government.

But Governor Snyder stresses it’s up to Flint’s elected leaders to set city water rates.

“We want to be a supportive partner,” says Snyder, suggesting the state can help by provide consulting resources and other assistance to aid city leaders in making their decisions. 

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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