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Local News

Joliet claims it is owed $620,000 from local sanitary district

JOLIET – The city of Joliet and a local sanitary district are having a run-in over a disputed bill for more than $620,000.

Joliet has claimed it is owed $622,390 for sanitary sewer services not paid since 2004 from the South Ridgewood Sanitary District.

The district contends that the Joliet bill is based on faulty city meters that register as much as three times the actual sewage being handled.

“We don’t owe that,” Frank Burkey, attorney for the South Ridgewood Sanitary District, said of the $622,390 figure listed in a final notice from the city threatening legal action. “They were in court and couldn’t prove it.”

Burkey said the sanitary district was previously sued by the city and the case was dismissed in 2011 because the city could not adequately show how much sewage it was getting from South Ridgewood.

South Ridgewood has $155,000 available from bills collected but not paid to Joliet until there is some resolution of the issue, Burkey said.

Ridgewood is an unincorporated area that lies just outside the city borders on the East Side. The sanitary district provides sewer lines in the neighborhood, and the sewage is treated at a city plant.

The city on May 25 sent a final notice to the South Ridgewood Sanitary District saying it has not been paid since Nov. 4, 2004, and stating the owed amount at $622,390.

In the notice, the city threatens legal action to end its services to South Ridgewood or take over certain aspects of the district’s sewer system, including customer billing.

City Manager Jim Hock said the city is seeking payments from South Ridgewood but declined to comment in detail, noting the possibility of litigation.

“That’s all subject to negotiation,” Hock said.

Hock did provide a memo from City Attorney Martin Shanahan on the matter. In the memo, Shanahan said attempts to contact the South Ridgewood Sanitary District and collect the overdue amounts have been unsuccessful. He said the city has stepped up its effort to collect unpaid bills.

Shanahan said a letter also was sent to customers of the sanitary district “to make them aware of the situation.”

While noting the possibility of litigation, Shanahan’s memo says, “City staff is also working toward a resolution to this challenging situation.”

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