Flint's chief financial officer discusses why water shutoffs are necessary

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FLINT (WJRT) (3/12/2018) - Flint's chief financial officer says the city can't continue allowing people to skip out on their bills.

So water shutoff notices are going out and customers with large unpaid balances are about to find their faucets run dry if they don't pay up.

"The city in the past has not been collecting or enforcing accounts as we probably should have been. People got used to us not doing shutoffs,” Flint Chief Financial Officer Hughey Newsome said.

He hopes this will make a dent in how much is owed to the city.
Newsome said the city cannot continue to afford nonpaying accounts.

Flint's water system is projected to bring in more than $27 million in metered water sales this fiscal year. Newsome said years of unpaid bills run as high as $24.5 million.

His concern is the past due payment amount could creep up past their yearly sales. So, the city will be looking first at those who owe the most.

Newsome said right now the worst bill is around $24,000 dollars.

The city is giving people who are behind on their water bills a deal. Anyone behind would have to pay their current amount due plus 10 percent of their past due balance to keep their water turned on.

According to a city ordinance, people normally have to pay their entire past due to balance.

For those who do get shut off, they'll have to pay half of their overdue balance and the fees for turning off and on their service.

This latest round of shutoffs has people debating on Facebook why people should have to pay for water that some still question.

"And so we have made a lot of progress is getting the lead out of the water, address by an address by address, and that's No. 1. No. 2, if you're not using the water then we would expect to see usage to decline, but we are not seeing that in a lot of residences that we have a back billing problem," Newsome said.

Anyone with financial hardship is invited to visit the Customer Service Center at Flint City Hall to discuss payment options with a representative.

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