City of Lowell FAQ's COVID-19

While City Offices are currently locked, City Staff are still working as usual.  The City is providing all services currently.  The exception is that the Police Department is not providing fingerprinting or court ordered preliminary breath testing due to safety precautions.  All other services/permit needs can be provided by either contacting Lowell City Hall at 897-8457 and if you have a police need to contact 897-7123.  Staff will be taking safety precautions to avoid contact but will work with you to ensure your service needs are met.

As this matter continues to evolve, the City is developing some Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to City Services:

If I cannot come into City Hall how do I pay my water and sewer bill?

The City will accept payment via the drop box located on Monroe Street or US Mail.  Our third party provider, Point and Pay, will continue to process credit card/debit card payments.  Customers also have the opportunity at no charge to have ACH transactions via your checking account.  Please feel free to contact our water billing staff for more information on this.

If I cannot pay my water and sewer bills, will they be shutoff?

Currently under the State of Emergency declarative made by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the City of Lowell will suspend shutoffs indefinitely.  Those who were on the most recent shutoff list have been notified of this.  In the event you are facing a financial hardship, please contact our water billing staff at 897-8457 and we will help you develop a payment arrangement plan.

Will the City waive credit card fees for water and sewer bills?

This service is provided by a third party vendor, who is a private company that charges a fee for this service.  By the City taking on these fees on behalf of the payee, it is a violation of the Michigan Constitution under Article 7 Section 26 pertaining to the lending of credit if Local Government for private purposes.  In addition, if this fee were tied into the rate structure, this may be a violation of the 1998 Supreme Court Ruling of Bolt v. City of Lansing.  Since not all users pay by this method, it could be deemed as an illegal tax which is a violation of the Headlee Amendment of the Michigan Constitution if incorporated into the rate structure.  The State of Emergency currently granted, and the City Charter do not allow the Mayor or City Manager the ability to willfully neglect an ordinance or law.

 Are City Parks closed?

Currently no.  However, notices have been placed near all playground equipment informing they are not sanitized.  Social distancing practices are strongly encouraged.  Enjoy open spaces, but remain ten feet away from others at all times.

 

Will the City Council meeting begin having virtual meetings?

On Wednesday March 18, 2020 Governor Whitmer issued an executive order suspending certain components of the Open Meetings Act to allow for virtual meetings.  The City is currently looking at our capabilities to consider this and ensuring we allow for public participation via direct communication and securing the needs of those with disabilities.  More information on this will follow in the upcoming days.

 Will the City have at least 3.5 days supply in case the staff at the Water Treatment Plant is compromised?

First our Administration has developed protocols to prevent the facility from being compromised and always ensuring a trained operator is always available.  Our treatment system is set up by tanks.  Our standard procedure daily is we work until the tanks are full and do not leave until this happens.  This allows us to draw down and pump the next day.  We can only pump to our tank capacity and this is our normal procedure daily.

 Will there be reduced City Staffing during this event?

At this time staff levels are at our normal standard prior to this incident.  In instances where possible, we have developed remote work station situations based on need.  We have developed safety protocols to insure social distancing and have prepared for executive level staff to work remotely if needed.   Unless we receive an order from the State or Federal Government to vacate our facility, we will continue this practice and modify as needed.

 Is the City communicating with other Cities to help determine best practices?

The City Manager has been in constant communication with other Municipal Managers throughout the State and West Michigan.  Many items to managing this event from a city perspective have been discussed though this process.  Many actions statewide have been very similar based on these communication mechanisms.

 
Rest assured the City of Lowell TEAM stands guard to protect our approximate 4,000 residents.

I wish you good health, peace and stability during this national pandemic.

Michael T. Burns
City Manager