Consultant says Flint needs to charge more for water and sewer service

Apr 10, 2014

Flint’s water customers may need to prepare to pay more for their tap water.

After sharp rate hikes a few years ago, several Flint city council members fear many residents won’t be able to pay more for water.
After sharp rate hikes a few years ago, several Flint city council members fear many residents won’t be able to pay more for water.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A consultant is recommending the city plan on annual rate hikes for the foreseeable future.

Flint’s aging water system has endured more than a hundred water main breaks since New Year’s Day. The city is also planning on replacing water service from Detroit by tapping into the Flint River and eventually a new pipeline that would reach Lake Huron.

To pay for all those infrastructure needs, William Stannard of Raftelis Financial Consultants recommends Flint hike water rates by five percent for each of the next four years.

“After those four years,” Stannard says, “the increases would be more closely aligned to just general inflationary impacts.”

But after sharp rate hikes a few years ago, several Flint city council members, including Councilwoman Jackie Poplar, fear many residents won’t be able to pay more for water.

“I’m hoping that we can find a way to help people pay their water bills,” Poplar said after a meeting last night where the consultant’s report was discussed.

Flint's future water rates may be set later this month when the city’s emergency manager proposes his budget for the next two years.