By Michael Sabbagh
Residents of Highland Park received an unwelcome Christmas present when the city slammed municipal water users with obscenely high bills and accompanying shut off threats. The city had neglected to send water bills in a timely fashion and sent unusually high bills for usage during the entire preceding year. Coupled with the city’s Water Recalculation Assessment Program (WRAP), there are reports of bills ranging from $600 to nearly $4,000, with a looming threat of service cut off unless arrangements are made to pay at least a quarter of the outstanding bill.
This is especially troubling in the winter months as many homes in Highland Parks use steam heat, putting many residents at risk of losing two essential services. The initial letters indicated that residents needed to make payment arrangements by January 24th, which was extended to February 1st, and has now been pushed to coincide with the next billing cycle for each user. There have been no reports so far that water service has been shut off for nonpayment but the city has made it clear that the bills are legitimate and will need to be taken care of. Residents are encouraged to stop in at city hall to discuss payment options or call the water department at (313) 252 – 0050 and choose voice prompt 1 followed by 2.