Charlotte plans to continue water shutoffs
State shutoff moratorium ended in March
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Utilities across mid-Michigan are starting to shut off service for people who have not paid their bills. The City of Charlotte said about 700 customers are more than 60 days behind.
Charlotte’s water department is owed $240,000 from customers who haven’t paid their bills.
That’s enough to run the entire department for a month.
“So it is a significant number. That’s why we’re taking a look at it. City Council has also weighed the humanitarian side of it,” said Charlotte Mayor Michael Armitage
The state moratorium on water shutoffs expired at the end of March. It was in place since thousands of people were suddenly laid off at the start of the pandemic. Utilities decided to keep their own moratorium in place.
Charlotte is one of them. And people like Maurisa Brown said they’d like to the moratorium stay.
“A lot of people lost their jobs and that wasn’t planned for,” said Brown.
Brown said she pays her water bill on time, but she gets why 700 of her neighbors aren’t caught up.
“Expenses have come up that they weren’t planning for, so if we can help them out as a city I feel that is the right thing to do,” she said.
Armitage said it’s getting to the point the city can’t help much longer.
“The dollars that are collected for water service go right back into operating and maintaining the system,” said Armitage.
He said the city is having to use come up with other ways to keep the water department running.
“That fund balance, that reserve, is keeping us afloat as it is designed to do. We are using that to essentially operate,” said Armitage.
Armitage said if people don’t pay their water bills, it could be put on the tax bill or passed onto other ratepayers.
Right now the plan is for the shutoff notices to start with the January billing cycle.
The Lansing Board of Water and Light and the City of Jackson started water shutoffs on September 7.
Hillsdale and St. John’s started shutting off service when the state moratorium ended.
If you need help paying your bills, the state has programs available. Call 211 or visit www.mi211.org to see if you’re eligible.
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