Detroit mayor announces water bill collection plan - myfoxcarolinas.com

Detroit mayor announces water bill collection plan

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Photo from Fox 2's Robin Schwartz Photo from Fox 2's Robin Schwartz
DETROIT (WJBK) - Detroit's mayor says the city will provide financial help for water customers in an effort to reduce mass service shutoffs that were the subject of protests and widespread criticism, including from the United Nations.

Mayor Mike Duggan made the announcement Thursday at City Hall. His office and Detroit water officials spent days redesigning how collections will be handled.

A small group of demonstrators stood outside the Coleman A. Young building with a list of demands for Duggan.

Inside, Duggan laid out a 10-point plan to resolve the city's water crisis.

So far, about 17,000 customers have had their water cut off -- many say they can't afford to pay their bills.

"I believe if I had control of the Water Department this would not have happened," Duggan said.

Emergency manager Kevyn Orr turned over control of the department a week ago.

Duggan  expressed frustration with the aggressive shut off policy which has received international attention -- and he outlined what's being done to help customers. Everything from forgiving fees to accepting 10 percent down on delinquent bills to extended hours and more staff in the call center.

And a water affordability fair like the one that took place last weekend on Saturday, August 23rd all day long at Cobo Hall.

"I truly believe people who can afford to pay will be able to pay and those who can't will get to the right place.

Right now shut offs are on hold until August 25th but the Duggan says they will resume after that. Residents will get a lot more notice including these tags right on their door.

A fund has also been set up for donations -- at DetroitWaterFund.org. The United Way is helping administer it for those in need.

 The city is trying to recover $40 million dollars in unpaid bills and its costing the average Detroiter an extra $80 dollars to make up the difference.

"When people say water should be free," Duggan said. "I don't know how we can filter it and pipe it to people's homes at no cost."

Fox 2 saw resident John McCray paying an outstanding bill of more than $1,000 for an unnamed business that had its water shut off.

Duggan's 10-point plan includes:

1) Waive turn-on fees and late payment penalties
2) Cut red tape
3) Extend hours at DWSD customer care centers
4) Increase staffing at DWSD call center and extended hours
5) Cobo Water Fair August 23
6) Improve notification for customers in danger of shutoff
7) Implement an affordable payment plan
8) Provide financial assistance for low income Detroit customers
9) Build neighborhood partnerships
10) Provide a clear way to give

The city has released more information of what residents in need can do.

Customer care centers are now open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and all centers have new Saturday hours, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Locations are:
Downtown center -- 735 Randolph
Eastside center -- 13303 E. McNichols
Westside center -- 15600 grand river

Call center: From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays (313) 276-8000

A Water Affordability Fair will be held Saturday, Aug. 23 at Cobo Hall.

Donations can be made: www.detroitwaterfund.org

The Detroit Water Brigade is delivering water to those in need: Call (313) 279-0608 or 1-844-42 WATER

Detroit had been cutting off water to commercial and residential customers 60 days behind or owing more than $150. Several groups appealed to the U.N. for support, and three U.N. experts responded the shutoffs could constitute a violation of the human right to water.


Copyright 2014 by myFOXDetroit.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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