Woman receives $10K past due water bill - WNEM TV 5

Woman receives $10K past due water bill

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

For months Certanya Johnson's water bills hovered in the low 100s.

Then in May her heart sank when she learned the city was charging her nearly $10,000.

It turns out her home had a faulty water meter and for years the city of Flint was charging her a lowered estimated monthly bill.

Once that meter was fixed this spring the new one calculated what the city wasn't charging her this whole time.

"I said, 'I can't pay no $10,000 for no water.' We don't even use the water," Johnson said.

Like many Flint residents, Johnson relies on bottled water.

She thought nothing of it recently when workers showed up to replace her water meter, but the next month she received the expensive bill.

"I thought it was a joke," Johnson said.

But it was far from a joke.

"2013 up until now. I say how can you do that," Johnson said.

Johnson had been paying her bill. It's just the city had been estimating what she owed.

"All these years. And I said, 'well, you didn't notify me or knock on the door or something,'" Johnson said.

Once the meter was replaced it showed the city's estimates were off by $10,000.

Johnson, who has lived in the same home for 10 years, said she never received any notice saying her meter was faulty.

"I don't believe you should be able to go back that far," City Councilman Eric Mays said.

Mays has been working with Johnson to reduce her bill and ensure her water isn't shut off.

He said the city has been underestimating water bills. So he drafted an ordinance to prevent estimations from going on for years.

"To get people's attention and to get somebody from the city in the house within three to six months," Mays said.

Meanwhile, Johnson was forced to retire early due to health complications. She lives on assistance programs and said there's no way she can pay her water bill.

"I don't know. What can I do? I'm worried now. What can I do about it," she said.

The city has since reduced Johnson's bill to $6,000, but she said that's still more than she can afford.

Mays said he intends to work with her until her issue is resolved.

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