Atlanta is going to begin shutting off water services for people with delinquent bills beginning Jan. 2, according to the commissioner for Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management.
Watershed Commissioner Mikita Browning told the Atlanta City Council’s City Utilities Committee that the shut offs will affect 27,000 customers. She told the councilmembers the city is going to notify the residents via bills, canvassing, and phone calls.
Browning said Atlanta ended fiscal year 2021, which spanned from July 2020 to June 2021, with more than $130 million in aged, active collections from single family, multi family and commercial accounts. She also said cut offs for single families have not been performed since roughly 2010.
Additionally, Browning said the city also focused on continued services during the coronavirus pandemic, which added roughly a $50 million increase in aged collections. As of September, Atlanta has $121 million in uncollected water charges, according to the city.
“We’ve been very generous,” Councilman Dustin Hillis said. “We’ve not cut off anyone’s residential water in over 12 years.”
The hardships of the pandemic, coupled with inflation, spurred the city to create a Flexible Levels, Options, & Affordable Terms (F.L.O.A.T.) Initiative to help single family residences resolve their service issues. But on Tuesday, Browning said the F.L.O.A.T. program is going to end Dec. 31.
The F.L.O.A.T. program offers account adjustments, interest-free payment plans from six to 24 months, and one-time grants and credits. The assistance is available for single family residences with an account balance minimum of $300.
Browning said F.L.O.A.T. currently has 1,963 participants. From that total, 1,007 people are on payment plans, and the remaining participants saw adjustments to their fees, water leaks and collection dates.
If customers with scheduled meetings with the F.L.O.A.T team for Dec. 31, they will be excluded from shut-offs until the meeting occurs, she said. Residents can schedule an appointment at atlantawatershed.org/float/. The department also accepts walk-ins.
Atlanta also has a federally-funded Low Income Household Water Assistance program (LIHWAP) and a Care and Conserve bill aid program. The council recently OK’d plans for the city to work with Georgia to obtain additional federal funds for LIHWAP.
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