Franklin Park

Franklin Park residents angered by soaring water bills after meter replacements

Village officials are urging residents to get meters replaced so that charges can be accurately applied

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Residents in suburban Franklin Park are demanding answers after water bills across the community soared during a transition to new water meters.

Angela Hantosh was one of dozens of residents who attended a board meeting Monday, demanding answers after she received a water bill for $2,500.

After paying that bill, Hantosh’s water bills have been clocking in at nearly three times what she says she used to pay.

“We usually never paid more than $70 a month, and now we’re over $200,” she said. “I was like ‘how are we going to pay this?’”

Her water meter was replaced in April, and that’s when she got the shocking bill.

“They threatened to put a lien on the house, so I just paid it,” she said.

According to officials, residents have been receiving actual or estimated meter readings based on whether they’ve had new meters installed, or existing ones repaired.

When a new meter is installed or an existing one repaired, it calculates usage back to the date when it began estimating, according to officials, and that has led to some unusually high bills. The village has reimbursed nearly $27,000 to date, according to officials.

During a recent run of replacing or repairing meters, more than 2,600 meters have been impacted, with more than 300 still needing work done.

“These are charges you did not plan on, or budget for, and it may seem like it is coming out of nowhere,” Mayor Barrett Pedersen said in a statement. “Please be assured that the village will continue to work with every individual to rectify the situation.”

The mayor said that payments plans, waiving late fees and penalties, and reduction of charges have all been used in response to complaints about the bills.

Jennifer Correa, a lifelong resident of the community, said she’s disappointed with what she calls a lack of transparency about the changes.

“It was $400 every month on average, and now it’s gone up to $980,” she said. “I have three jobs. I’m a single mother of three children, and so this is really rough.”

Officials say that more than 200 residents have not responded to calls and letters seeking to schedule a replacement or repair of their meters.

“Unfortunately, some residents may not have understood that by delaying this request, they were still incurring costs for water and sewage based on their actual usage,” Utilities Commissioner Joe Thomas said. “That amount is recorded in the meter had, and the costs are cumulative.”

Officials are urging residents to reach out to the water department if replacements are still needed.

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