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Lorain citizens group asks for longer moratorium on water shut-offs

Posted at 10:05 PM, Feb 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-13 23:17:30-05

LORAIN, Ohio — Some Lorain citizens and business owners are requesting Mayor Jack Bradely take additional steps to better curb the city's ongoing water bill controversy.

Victoria Kempton with Lorain County Water and Sewer Consumer Coalition told News 5 she appreciates the Mayor's effort, but believes more needs to be done to assist the estimated 1,500 customers who are behind in paying their water bills.

Kempton told News 5 the Mayor's plan to freeze rates for residents who make less that $17,000 would only help about 4% of water customers, and calling the Mayor's office to schedule a hearing on delinquent bills may not be enough to accommodate the hundreds who are trying to avoid shut-off.

“The mayor needs to put a 90-day moratorium on shut-offs, and needs to restructure the entire payment plan top to bottom, so it’s fair and equitable for all citizens, and start again — hit the reset button,” Kempton said.

“I mean, 1,500 people are just going to call the Mayor’s office, show up, bring your kids, take off work?"

“One hundred and twenty-five people a week are being shut off; 25 people a day are waking up to no water, or are coming home to no water," she said.

News 5 contacted Mayor Bradely's office and the office of his safety/service director to get a response on the 90-day moratorium request, but we're still waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, Lorain business owners like Bill Bobel are concerned the water bill issues are hurting low-income families and are having impact on potential real estate buyers.

“With people, you’re trying to sell the properties, people are becoming more apprehensive knowing there is a problem in our water and sewer department," Bobel said. “It’s infuriating. How can you do that to people who need the water? They have young children at home.”

“An immediate freeze on all shut-offs, and have a complete external audit, and I think the new mayor is trying to work that way, but we haven’t got any real response or commitment," he said. “You really have to help these folks, you have to set up something that is going to be manageable for them.”

Water bill issues are expected to be brought up by citizens during the Lorain City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18.