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Macomb county official opposes $2 per month, per water meter charge to assist low-income families

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

A Macomb county official is opposing legislation that would charge a monthly fee to help people across the state who cannot pay their water bills.

That legislation has not yet been introduced, but is part of a larger package ofwater affordability bills that’s being crafted. It would charge two dollars per month per meter.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller estimates the fee would generate $70 million a year.

“Most of it, of course, will be going to cities like Detroit,” she said.

Macomb County already participates in a water assistance program through the Great Lakes Water Authority.

“Most of our folks are members of the Great Lakes Water Authority and we are already paying for something called the WRAP program which is the Water Residential Assistance Program,” Miller explained.

She added when Macomb county residents don’t use all of the money from that program, Macomb County’s unused portion goes to help Water Authority low-income customers in other counties.

“So, if they pass this legislation, I think they need to put an opt-out provision and let the counties decide themselves if they want to do this,” Miller said.

Senator Stephanie Chang to ensure people have access to water, she is proposing the statewide fee to do into a state-held fund.

“Which will then fund the affordability program that we’ve built out in legislation to ensure that every single person has water bills that they can afford across the whole state of Michigan,” Chang said.

The package of bills aims to eliminate water shutoffs throughout the state by assisting households at 200 percent of the federal poverty line and below to pay part or all of their water bills, including overdue bills.

Copyright 2023 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.