Mayor Karen Weaver has received a letter from State Treasurer Nick Khouri stating the Water Relief program in the City of Flint has officially been extended through December 31, 2016. The program has provided residential customers with a 65% credit on the water charges of their utility account and commercial customers with a 20% credit dating back to April 2014 when the City’s water source was switched to the Flint River.
The $12.75 million in relief provided in the current State of Michigan budget includes a stipulation requiring the City to have a 70% collection rate on water/sewer bills. In order for the credits to stay in place, the City must show that customers are paying their bills as required by the state. Though the collection rate has not been achieved, state treasury officials acknowledged the recent progress made through the collection program for commercial customers and the upcoming start of the collection program for residential accounts. In a successful and ongoing effort to meet state guidelines, City officials have worked with customers and increased the collection rate of commercial utility accounts to 76%.
“The City of Flint welcomes the extension and acknowledgment that good progress is being made in our collections,” said David Sabuda Flint’s Chief Financial Officer. “We thank the commercial customers who have complied with the program and now we are asking residents to do the same and help the City cover the cost of water and sewer services being provided. Doing so will benefit all our customers as our community works to move past the worst days of the man-made water disaster.”
Starting next week, along with their utility bills, residential customers with past due balances will receive a letter informing them they must pay the current balance on their utility account plus 10% of past due balances. The letter will also explain what is at stake if the balance on their water/sewer account remains past due. Customers who do not make the required payment will not receive the 65% relief credits in December, a late penalty will be added to their account, and shut offs will be scheduled. This plan is necessary to help the City increase its collection rate and preserve the credit program for all utility customers as the City of Flint continues to recover from the effects of the water crisis.
Earlier this year, the state provided $30 million in water relief credits. The funds were used to apply credits to customers’ utility accounts for the period of April 2014 through April 2016. Subsequent water relief credits of $8.1 million have also been applied to accounts of residential and commercial customers.
Again, residential customers should expect a letter with their next utility bill informing them of the program, its benefits, and what they can do to help make sure the credits continue for as long as possible. Those not current on their water bills will not receive the relief credit on their next bill, and their accounts will once again be subject to the late interest on past due balances. Furthermore, commercial customers who do not pay their monthly payment plus 10% of the previous balance will be placed on a shut off list.
“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,” stated Sabuda.
Customers with financial hardships who want to ensure that their credits stay in place and that they are not placed on the shut off list, should come to City Hall to discuss payment options with a representative in the Customer Service Center. Customers with questions can also call the Customer Service Center at (810) 766-7015.