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No Rhyme Nor Reason To City's Water Billing System

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 4, 2010 2:00PM

2010_10_wartermeters.jpg Must read of the day: the Sun-Times' three-part series on the tumbleweed that is the city's water meter billing system. Part one, which ran in Friday's edition, focused on the seemingly arbitrary nature of how different sized homes are billed; highlighted the wards with the most and fewest water meters in the city; the clout-heavy politics behind awarding water meter installation contracts;and why many homeowners haven't taken advantage of the city's free offer to install water meters in their homes. Yesterday, reporters Tim Novak and Chris Fusco wrote about how Fred Bruno Barbara, friend of Mayor Daley and relative of the late Alderman/noted Chicago Outfit member Fred Roti, was being underbilled for his water usage in a Chinatown warehouse he owns and how he's now contesting a $31,079 bill the city slapped him with once the Sun-Times started snooping around. Today's conclusion looks at how even aldermen aren't immune to this and how the city's water commissioner, Thomas H. Powers, doesn't even have a water meter for his home.

While Barbara's inclusion in the series makes for a nice "bogeyman" addition, the data analysis for the series from Sun-Times resident statistician Art Golab indicates that sometimes clout doesn't always matter in how a property owner is billed for water and sewage service. The series also looks at Ravenswood resident Michael Yannell, who built an eco-friendly home and wasn't billed for water service until August, even as he made frequent calls to the city to insist on being billed. The city countered that, even with a water meter, his address didn't exist.

Can't you just see a private water company reading that series and seeing dollar signs flying if they can convince His Elective Majesty to enter in a contract to privatize the water system?