CHICAGO (CBS) – The CBS 2 investigators stay on the water beat.
In the latest case, Chicago’s water department cut one man’s $9,000 water bill in half.
Except Rafal Kawalec barely used any water.
CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards looks into yet another case of a property owner getting hosed.
Kawalec’s property was stipped to the studs, no walls, no cut pipes for water to even flow. Despite not a drip used for two years, Chicago still said Kawalec owed: $8,787.06.
A vacant property with no running water means a zero dollar bill, right? Kawalec has proof in the form of a water service termination notice
Not in Chicago.
Because the property was unmetered, the city sent him estimated water bills — based on the property’s size and the types of “plumbing fixtures.”
The bills started adding up fast:
From $381 in 2015 to the $8,700 in 2017.
“I’m not using the water,” Kawalec said.
He asked for a meter to prove no water was used, and he got it.
“For two, three years we tried to get any help from the water department to reduce our bill to zero because we are sure we did not use anything.”
Typically, he’d have to pay that bill, to get the water running again.
But, oddly, he didn’t pay. And yet, the city turned the water back on.
At that point, the only usable water in the entire place was a single toilet. The meter showed 948 gallons used in two years. An average home uses 10,000 gallons in a month.
The city eventually agreed to cut his bill in half to $3,972.48.
The city never explained how it calculated that reduction.
“The whole system is broken,” Kawalec said.
Kawalec hoped all the work he put into this building would improve this West Side neighborhood.
“Everything is brand new because there was nothing here,” he said.
But he’s stuck with it. No one wants to buy a building with a big water bill against it
The city stands behind the billing at this property and maintains the amount due is accurate.
It expects everyone to pay for utilities, even if a building is vacant.