A maintenance truck at Eastpointe’s Department of Public Works holds 6-foot keys that are used to shut off water. The Eastpointe City Council voted to rescind the water shut-off policy during its June 5 meeting.

A maintenance truck at Eastpointe’s Department of Public Works holds 6-foot keys that are used to shut off water. The Eastpointe City Council voted to rescind the water shut-off policy during its June 5 meeting.

Photo by Sean Work


Eastpointe City Council rescinds water shut-off policy

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 13, 2018

EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council voted 3-2 to rescind the city’s water shut-off policy during its June 5 meeting at Eastpointe City Hall.    

Eastpointe Mayor Suzanne Pixley, Mayor Pro Tem Michael Klinefelt and Councilwoman Sarah Lucido voted in favor of rescinding the policy; Councilman Cardi DeMonaco Jr. and Councilwoman Monique Owens voted against.

Council unanimously voted to table the policy during its May 15 meeting. At that time, Eastpointe Financial Director Randall Blum recommended rescinding the policy and having the overdue bills put on people’s tax bills twice a year.

DeMonaco at the June 5 meeting addressed why he didn’t want to rescind the policy. 

“I’d rather not see us just rescind the whole policy. I think we could amend it to make it more fair for residents and also less cumbersome work for the Water Department,” said DeMonaco. 

 Lucido said she wanted to rescind the 2011 policy and addressed her biggest concern. 

“I think we should rescind the water shut-off policy. … It’s still going to go on the taxes. I feel we will still eventually recoup the money from the water bills. My biggest concern is you do have situations in homes where people are on fixed income, and if they have some sort of financial emergency, and maybe they do get behind, at least they can still come and set up a payment plan. … At the same time, if there’s something going on and they don’t have the means to do that right away, they’re going to get their water shut off,” said Lucido. 

Lucido said that with some situations there are children in the homes and she didn’t want those who were not responsible for the unpaid bills to have to go without water. 

Pixley wanted to know the “different avenues” with the 2011 policy that someone who lives on a fixed income could take so that their water wouldn’t have to be shut off. 

“What are the types of things they can do to resolve these issues on a temporary basis?” asked Pixley. 

According to the city’s 2011 policy, when a bill was not paid by the due date set by ordinance, collection procedures would be implemented to facilitate payment and/or collection. 

An overdue notice would be sent to a customer, giving the customer 30 days to pay the account and advising them that failure to pay would result in the water being shut off. At least half of the balance had to be paid within the 30-day period to avoid shut-off, but once the 30 days had passed, this option was no longer available. 

Blum said that most residents would show up on “day 31” to pay half of their bill and that the city was losing money with the 2011 policy.  

“Most people show up on day 31 complaining that we didn’t give them enough time. In the original (water shut-off policy) from 2011, we had done the analysis that it was $218 worth of expense to do the tracking, shut-off to turn-on. Yet, we were only charging a $100 fee. So we were losing money on every shut-off,” said Blum. 

The city had subsequently increased the fee to $125, but Blum said the cost should have been more because of the pay increases overtime. 

Blum also said that the city receives more money from penalties and interest on residents not paying their water bills than they do with the $125 shut-off fees.  

“The people that do pay the penalties and interest help to reduce the rate increases over time. So, the people that pay their bill get the benefit more than the people that don’t pay their bill,” said Blum. 

During the meeting, Blum said that if the bill was rescinded by council there would be more revenue coming into the water sewer fund with the penalties and interest for late payments. He said it would be a net plus to the water and sewer system — not stopping the rate increases, but it could slow the increases down.