Consumption and Consumer Use Credit would provide relief to residents, funding is on top of $37.3 million in relief already allocated this fiscal year
As part of his upcoming budget proposal, Gov. Rick Snyder will ask the Legislature to approve a $30 million water consumption credit plan for the residents of Flint to keep their water service on and eliminate the need to pay for water they cannot completely trust to drink.
The governor’s proposal is part of the 2016-2017 Fiscal Year budget he will present to lawmakers next week, and calls for a new Consumption and Consumer Use Credit the city of Flint could apply to residents’ water bills until state, federal, and independent water quality officials certify the water is safe for consumption.
“I agree with Flint residents, that they should not have to pay for water they cannot drink,” Snyder said. “My budget recommendation will include the request for the state to make payments to the city’s water system for residential bills going back to April 2014.”
Under the governor’s ask, the funding would enable the city of Flint to apply credits for customers on future bills. Estimates show water is roughly 47 percent of billing and sewer costs are around 53 percent.
The credit would be applied to consumption usage (roughly 65 percent) of a resident’s water portion of the bill. Residents still would be responsible for paying the sewer portion of their water bills.
The $30 million recommendation is part of the governor’s formal budget request to the Legislature.
The credit would not take effect until the budget goes through the full state budget process, including vetting and approval by House and Senate committees as well as a vote of both chambers.
Bill credits for residents going back to April 2014 is part of the governor’s longer-term approach to the crisis and if enacted will help ensure the fiscal stability and structural integrity of the city’s water system.
“As an American who sympathizes with the plight of Flint residents, it’s hard to find moral justification in having them pay for water that is not suitable for consumption or until recently, bathing,” said Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering at Virginia Tech University. “This essentially refunds all the money associated with consumption or consumer use. I think it’s an amazing gesture of common sense and good will and it corrects an injustice. I don’t think there’s a precedent for this. I feel so encouraged by the direction this is going.”
Last Friday, Snyder signed supplemental spending for Flint in the amount of $28 million that will:
- Supply free bottled water, faucet filters, and testing kits for Flint residents;
- Put nine nurses in local schools to monitor student health and well-being;
- Provide better nutrition for students and infants through WIC and in-school nutrition programs;
- Replace fixtures in schools, daycares, nursing homes and hospitals;
- Provide for an infrastructure study using independent experts;
- Treat any children who have high lead levels in the blood, using diagnostic testing, nurse visits and environmental assessments in the home;
- Provide additional community education opportunities within the Genesee County Health Department;
- Compensate the Michigan National Guard’s work to support water distribution;
- Assist with home lead abatement costs;
- Help the City of Flint with utility issues;
- Provide operational funding for the Flint Interagency Advisory Committee.
The $28 million emergency supplemental funding signed last week is in addition to $9.3 million in October 2015 to move back to Detroit’s water system, test drinking water and provide wraparound services for children.
The governor will formally present his Fiscal Year 2016-2017 budget recommendation on Feb. 10 in Lansing.