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Flint residential water customers face choice: pay up or risk shutoff

Water faucent in Flint.
Mark Brush
Michigan Radio
Water faucet in Flint.

This week, delinquent residential water customers in Flint are facing a choice: pay up or their service may be cutoff.

The city of Flint has had some success getting commercial water customers to pay up past due accounts using a carrot and stick approach. Pay up and continue to get a state credit on their bills or risk losing water and sewer service. More than ¾ Flint commercial water customers are now up to date on their water and sewer bills. There are a few, including two apartment complexes, that are facing shutoffs.

Starting this week, residential water bills will carry the same basic choice.

Residential customers will have to pay their current balance, plus 10% on past due balances and they’ll continue to receive a 65% state credit on their water bill. If they don’t pay, they’ll lose the state credit, get a late fee penalty and possibly be shutoff. 

The city is under pressure from the state to get 70% of water customers up to date on their bills.

“We are willing to work with residents unable to meet the full terms of the payment requirement, but we City officials must also show the state that our customers are paying for the services we provide,” says David Sabuda, Flint’s Chief Financial Officer.

But many Flint residents don’t want to pay their bills, because water and sewer rates are so high and the water is not safe to drink without a filter.

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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