CHICAGO (CBS)—A Harvey woman said she couldn’t believe her eyes after seeing her water bill more than triple in just months.
She wasn’t getting the answers she wanted from the city, so CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar stepped in.
For Yolanda Otis and her mom Francis, turning on the water in their Harvey home is now a three-digit luxury.
“We’ve been living here 48 years,” Otis said.
“$53 dollars!” she said.
There’s one water bill from the City of Harvey for $53, another for $61 and a recent bill for $62.
“That’s all I’ve been paying,” Fransic Otis said.
Until last month, when the bill suddenly shot up to $219.
Yolanda Otis said they were using a usual amount of water, so the cost increase didn’t make sense.
They paid it out of fear that the water could be shut off.
When they contacted the water company to inquire about the increase, they were advised to check their toilet to see if it was leaking.
They went out and bought a new one, but the problem persisted.
“We thought the problem would be over with,” Yolanda Otis said.
But it wasn’t.
The next bill that arrived was for $477.
“When you get to a certain age, stuff like that affects you,” Francis Otis said.
Harvey Alderman and mayoral candidate Christopher Clark said water bill complaints are fairly common.
“I get a variety of complaints regarding water bills,” Clark said.
Clark believes the hefty water bills are an example of mismanagement—possibly connected with a Cook County judge’s ruling in recent years finding the City of Harvey misused millions of dollars in water operations revenue.
“Now we have to pay for the mistakes that they made,” Clark said. “It’s a life changing event for someone on a fixed income.”
“That’s Christmas. Might as well say that’s Christmas that means a lot of things won’t get paid,” Yolanda Otis said.