CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Charlotte has a problem with unpaid water bills. More than 700 accounts are more than 60 days past due, owing the city a total of $240,000.
It's the most money the city has seen overdue, according to Mayor Michael Armitage.
“It’s a significant amount of money that’s owed to the city," he said. "And this is a community-owned utility so the money is vital because that’s what supports the system.”
Armitage said it could be a problem of people falling behind due to the pandemic and it could be the city not being consistent with collections due to the no shut off order that was in place up until a few months ago.
But come, the January billing cycle, water shut offs will resume, according to a resolution passed by the City Council Monday night.
“So that will mean when people get their bill in January, that bill will be subject to shut off. So if that bill goes delinquent, any past due balance will be on there of course but at that point they will need to bring that bill up to date,” Armitage said.
Armitage said they’re going to be proactive from now till January about communicating with those who are behind on bills to offer resources that could help them get caught up.
Residents have said on social media there have been problems receiving their water bills. Armitage said there have been issues with City Hall getting the bills out due to people working from home and staff vacancies. There were bills sent out up to 30 days late, but Armitage said they're now getting out in a more timely manner.
“City Council did take action to actually change our ordinance. So that it’s very clear now that you have 30 days from when you’re billed,” he said.
Chris Lake, a resident of Charlotte for 36 years, said the last time he received a bill was in September of 2020 and he had to contact the city to find out the total.
“If the bills are not getting sent out, then how are you able to collect money?" Lake said. "People don’t know that they owe money besides just living here and knowing that every three months, there is a billing cycle for water."
If you’re having trouble paying your bills and are looking for resources you can call 211 for assistance.
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