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Suburb On the Hook for $26 Million in Unpaid Water Bills

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Everyone has been late paying a bill or two in their life, but the suburb of Harvey may have taken delinquent utility payments to another level. Levied with a fine for unpaid water bills yesterday that amounts to more than the city's entire property tax levy for an entire year, the city was ordered by a judge to pay $26M to the City of Chicago. Many cities pay for treated water Chicago pumps from Lake Michigan, but since 2008, Harvey hasn't paid, and a rep said it's "impossible to discern exactly what dollars were spent where," according to a Tribune article.

Harvey has been spending water revenue for different purposes, including paying loans, but has still charged neighboring suburbs such as Homewood for water that flows through their system, even boosting rates. Harvey has also been more aggressive about shutting off its own residents, even though it hasn't raised prices in "compassion to to our residents who have been beaten by this economy," said the city's lawyer. Judge Rita Novak has the option to impose a court takeover of the city's water revenue, a step that is being postponed until at least January. This isn't the only financial issue plaguing Harvey; it hasn't approved a budget for this fiscal year, and the SEC brought a fraud charge against the municipality in federal court. Now here's a case of good old fashioned mismanagement.
·Judge orders Harvey to pay Chicago $26 million in unpaid water bills [Tribune]