Nearly 19,000 Delinquent Phoenix Water Customers Owe $9.6M

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, June 14, 2021 - 5:55am
Updated: Monday, June 14, 2021 - 8:29am

Phoenix, Tempe and El Mirage are the only Valley cities that still keep water flowing to homes and businesses that are behind on their bills. 

Early in the pandemic, nearly every city issued a moratorium on disconnections. According to a Phoenix City Council report, most have resumed disconnections. El Mirage plans to resume in September while Tempe and Phoenix are undecided.

During the pandemic, Phoenix has focused more on helping delinquent customers. Using federal coronavirus relief funds, city money and donations, Phoenix’s Water Services Department said more than $3.5 million has been provided to more than 8,000 customers at risk of losing water, sewer and trash services. 

In addition, when the pandemic began last year, Phoenix launched a deferred payment arrangement program to let customers pay over several months without racking up late fees. More than 8,500 customers are enrolled in the program with bills totaling nearly $4.5 million. But payments have not yet been required, and the highest balance for a single customer enrolled in the program as of June 7 was nearly $7,000. 

A city report said there are 18,790 delinquent commercial and residential accounts that add up to more than $9.6 million.

As part of Phoenix’s water equity and affordability strategy, the Water Services Department reporting the following actions:

Completed 

  • Test and pilot low-flow devices in lieu of service disconnections for SingleFamily Residential (SFR) customers. 
  • Discontinue accrual of late fees for SFR customers after severance of City Services account.
  • Hire additional Spanish-speaking customer representatives in the Utility Billing and Contact centers.

In Progress:  

  • Employ customer data analytics to identify valid means to predict and prevent disconnections through tailored, proactive communication.  
  • Gather data regarding customer use of languages other than English and Spanish and explore offering additional language services.  
  • Deploying federal assistance programs (C.A.R.E.S., ERA, ARPA, LIHWAP). 
  • Modify local assistance programs, including Project Assist.  
  • Monthly econometric review of revenue impacts and forecasts.  
  • Evaluate rate values and signals such as allowance assessment and consolidation of tampering fees. 

Future:  

  • Expand customer outreach to inform and guide customer behavior (enhanced conservation programs). 
  • Improve consumption awareness and leak mitigation via enhanced metering data pilots.  Investigate a potential partnership with a third-party payment plan web portal to assist customers with managing their City Services bill payment plans. 

Below is information taken from Phoenix’s COVID-19 resource page:

Emergency Rent, Utility, or Eviction

Arizona Department of Housing

Special COVID-19 rental assistance funding from the Arizona Department of Housing.

 INFO: housing.az.gov

Landlord and Tenant Program

The City of Phoenix Human Services Department Landlord and Tenant Program provides one-on-one counseling and education regarding the Arizona Residential Landlord Tenant Act. Walk-in appointments at the Travis L. Williams Family Services Center have been temporarily suspended, however telephone appointments and email communication will continue to be offered in both English and Spanish. To request a telephone appointment, please call (602) 262-7210 or email [email protected] INFO: phoenix.gov/humanservices/programs/landlord-tenant-counseling

Emergency Rent and Utility Assistance and Eviction Prevention Services​

The City of Phoenix Human Services Department Family Services Centers provide emergency utility and rent financial assistance to low income households, including prioritized support for seniors, persons with disabilities, and families with young children. Eviction prevention services upon receiving a five-day notice is also available. To request an appointment, call (602) 534-AIDE (2433) beginning at 8:00 a.m. each Monday, excluding holidays. Applicants must be a Phoenix resident and assistance may be restricted to once per 12-month period. INFO: phoenix.gov/humanservices/programs/emergency



BusinessPolitics Utilities

One Source, My Connection!