Flint City Council issues moratorium on liens over late water bi - WNEM TV 5

Flint City Council issues moratorium on liens over late water bills

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

It has been more than three years since some Flint residents have had clean, drinkable water.

Some of those residents could lose their home for not paying for the water they can't drink.

The Flint City Council gathered for a special meeting on Wednesday and decided to issue a moratorium on the liens.

"We must start doing something for our community," Council President Kerry Nelson said.

More than 8,000 water liens were placed on homes and those liens could be transferred to their property taxes, leaving homeowners at risk of losing their homes.

"Well, if you know the difference between right and wrong you'd know that's not right," said Don Richardson, Flint resident.

He said the possibility of people losing their homes because of delinquent water bills is just adding insult to injury.

"Can't use that water to drink with, it's wrong," Richardson said.

The city of Flint is warning residents if they're past due on water bills it could snowball into them losing their homes.

Water liens were slated to transfer into people's property taxes on Friday. The ACLU and the NAACP stepped up their support for a moratorium on the placement of the liens.

Scott Kincaid, city councilman, hoped the special meeting would help.

"We just need to work to find a better way to do collections without foreclosing on people's properties. We already have enough foreclosures in the city of Flint," Kincaid said.

Under the moratorium, liens will not be placed on property until further notice as council members review the current ordinance.

"They can feel better tonight knowing that lien will not occur," Nelson said.

The city's website states the transfer is a requirement. The website says once payments are missed on water/sewer accounts for longer than six months, city ordinance requires the treasurer to transfer the lien to the property tax bill.

"I don't know that it's good to completely get rid of it. It's a balancing act, but we have to work through this process," Kincaid said.

As for Richardson, he said he understands the city's need to try to rebound from the tainted water fiasco, but forcing people to pay for unsafe water is not the best way to fix what has been broken.

"They shouldn't have to pay the contaminated bills. I would never drink that water myself. They say that you can drink it after it runs through a littler filter, but I wouldn't trust that," Richardson said.

On Tuesday the ACLU and the NAACP sent letters to Flint calling the move unjust. The organizations claim residents should not have to pay for water that isn't fit to drink.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver and the state's Receivership Transition Advisory Board - who still has the final say on the council's decisions - can veto the moratorium. There is no word on what either party will do.

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