City sues churches, schools over unpaid electricity bills

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit is stepping up efforts to collect on unpaid electricity bills by suing churches, schools and other organizations the city says owe a combined $834,000.

The Detroit Free Press reports  the city sued 10 organizations last week in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Detroit’s corporation counsel Melvin (Butch) Hollowell says the lawsuits are part of a crackdown by the administration of Mayor Mike Duggan after the city last summer started shutting off power and issuing other warnings to corporate customers of the Detroit Public Lighting Department.

Hollowell says about $29 million in all was owed by those customers. He says in the past year the city has collected $17 million.

Detroit emerged from Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in December and the city has been phasing out its money-losing lighting department.