CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago business owner wants to know why his water bill rose to $34,427.
CBS 2 Investigator Dorothy Tucker found the man had evidence the city is probably to blame, but they did nothing to fix it.
Grainy surveillance video shows crews from the Chicago water department outside Top Value Auto repair shop in December of 2016.
“I think they were possibly fixing the above ground leak,” owner Chevy Ghanayem said.
When they supposedly fixed the leak, Ghanayem’s December 2016 water bill was $293. His monthly bill for Dec. 2018 was $1,714 – more than five times higher.
“Unbelievable. It’s very hard on business owners in Chicago,” he said.
Ghanayem didn’t realize there was a problem with the bill until his father died and he needed to transfer the business to his name. He asked for all the city records and concluded the leak hadn’t been fixed because in October of this year the bill was $2,459.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s not a car wash. It’s a mechanic shop,” he said.
Ghanayem took photos when crews returned on Oct. 17 and video when they had to come back on Nov. 13.
“On November 13, whatever the department did on October 17 wasn’t fixed,” he said.
Ghanayem says they wouldn’t put it in writing, but he took notes.
“The workers and their boss told me it was their fault,” he said.
But the city never adjusted the bill. After CBS 2 called, Thursday morning crews showed up again, and initially the inspector, who didn’t want to give his name, said the city was not at fault.
“There’s no leak on the city’s side,” the inspector said on camera. “The leak is on your side.”
But he said he could not answer why the city kept coming out if the leak was on Ghanayem’s side.
In the last two years in all the notes from the city there’s never any mention that the leak could be on Ghanayem’s property.
“We don’t know where the leak is at. We really don’t. But we know it’s on his side,” the inspector said.
Ghanayem responded, “How do you say you don’t know where the leak is, but you know it’s on my side?”
The inspector agreed to make some phone calls and came back with this offer.
“They’re going to come out and try and resolve this issue,” he said.
“Everything hopefully will be in God’s hands taken care of,” Ghanayem said.
Ghanayem knows he owes some of the $35,000. He just wants the city to adjust the bill and fix the leak.
A short time after CBS 2 was there, an inspector called Ghanayem to say there was still a small leak on the city’s side, and a crew was working outside Ghanayem’s shop.
City officials say they’re still investigating the issue and will get back to CBS 2.