Flint residents talk water credit, cash at town hall
Mayor Karen Weaver’s message to her constituents Thursday was clear: She is listening.
And they told her during the mayor’s monthly address to get moving on water bill credits. Some pushed for cash instead of credits coming in the form of a $30 million state grant.
Leonard Edwards, a retired small businessman and lifelong resident, was concerned about how the credits would be applied. He said his father was still paying for water he can’t drink.
“My dad is 93 years old, doesn’t owe a bill — has never been late on a bill,” Edwards said. “We want to know how is this money is being distributed ... His water is still bad. Those bills should be taken care of, that should be our relief.”
Edwards said his father doesn’t want credits. “He wants his check back.”
Chief Financial Officer Jody Lundquist told residents at Brennan Community Center on the city’s south central side: “We stopped sending bills out and we really want to explain to people why we did that and what they should be looking for.”
The city suspended mailing water bills out earlier this month while it works to apply the $30 million state grant as credits to water bills from April 2014 to present. Credits are expected to average of $600.
Lundquist said credits will constitute 65 percent of the drinking water portion of bills because the city’s “hands are rather tied.”
“The city is definitely sensitive to the desire its customers who have been current on their bills,” Lundquist said, but the grant must be handled as a credit relief program.
Weaver said “we got the money from the governor and that’s the way the governor set it up,” referring to the grant Gov. Rick Snyder requested and the Legislature in February approved following the lead contamination of the water, beginning in April 2014.
“I want my money back too, but I can’t get it, and we want some more money too,” she said.
Weaver touched on her job-training initiative, Flint WaterWorks, designed to get youth into good paying jobs to aid in the water recovery effort. The town hall included new staff and just-appointed Police Chief Tim Johnson and Fire Chief Ray Barton.
“Michigan Works! will be advertising for apprenticeship programs for this work, if we get work, which we should, replacing these waterlines and anything else that needs to be fixed,” said Harold Herrington, a master plumber and union official, referring to the partnership between the work assistance program and the Governor’s Office to hire Flint residents.
Carolyn Schannon said she didn’t want a credit.
“If you’re getting paid, then pay us, it’s time to wake up,” she said. “We’ve woken up the whole nation, it’s time for the city of Flint and the state to do its part. Give us back our money now.”