June 12, 2015 || Originally Posted: ABC 7 NEWS || 5/11/15 || Paul Meincke
MAYWOOD, Ill. (WLS) — Dozens of people are rushing to pay water bills in suburban Maywood because the village has threatened them with immediate shut-off.
The notice says you’ve got to pay, or at least make an attempt – and if you don’t, your water will be cut off Friday.
That has alarmed dozens and dozens of Maywood residents, who lined up in a village facility today to say, “What’s going on?”
“I’ve never been in arrear, I found that unfair and found that just to be insane,” said Ronnie Fondren, a Maywood resident.
“Two days notice prior to a disconnection is unfair,” said Ronda Barfield.
Barfield’s disconnect notice says her water bill is nearly $1,000 in arrears. She’s emerged from bankruptcy and is prepared to make good on some of that.
“I’m willing to make good on what I owe currently, but this past due amount, $992, not going to happen,” Barfield said.
“It’s not like the big bad city is going to pounce on you and shut your water off,” said Willie Norfleet, Maywood village manager.
Maywood’s village manager says something has to be done, because for years the village has dragged its feet on bill collection and it just can’t afford to continue that.
Maywood has been hobbled for years by home foreclosures and job losses. The village says half of its 6,400 water accounts are delinquent to the tune of over $1 million.
So this is an attempt to eat into that debt.
“If they make a good faith effort, and those who already have a payment arrangement who have honored it, they’re not going to get shut off,” Norfleet said. “But we have to have you come in and make arrangements to pay. Granted, there will ultimately be a percentage that we go out and shut off.”
Though the notice says the cut-offs begin Friday, the reality is that won’t likely happen until next week after the village can gauge response to what it says is not a bluff.
From a CBS Chicago report:
“It’s not an attempt to literally shut the water off, and say too bad. Some, or most, are going to have to come up with some money, so we can keep going,” [Norfleet] said.
Norfleet said it would be unfair to residents who pay their bills on time to have to pay more to cover the cost of those who haven’t paid. He said shutoffs likely won’t begin until after Monday.
Residents would have to pay a $300 fee to get their water turned back on if it is shut off for non-payment.
Payments can be made with cash, check, money order, or credit card at the village hall, located at 40 Madison St. in Maywood, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. VFP
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