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Local News

Illinois not paying water bills owed to Joliet

JOLIET – Add unpaid water bills to the list of money the state owes the city of Joliet.

The state owes more than $4,000 in water bills at three facilities in Joliet, an amount that pales in comparison to the nearly $9.5 million in tax revenues being withheld from the city.

The state does not have to worry about a shutdown notice anytime soon.

City Manager Jim Hock said Joliet knows it will get its money someday.

“In this case, we know that the state is going to pay us at some point,” Hock said. “Our goal is to collect the money and provide service.”

The state stopped paying water bills in July when the governor and state Legislature failed to produce a budget. The three facilities the state has in Joliet are the offices of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois State Police and Secretary of State.

Gov. Bruce Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly in an email response to questions about the state’s failure to pay water bills cited “the Democratic Legislature’s failure to pass a balanced budget” and said “there is no appropriation authority to make these payments.”

The state is getting more consideration than the typical deadbeat water customer.

When a Joliet resident goes months without paying, the city has a plan of action.

“We can give them a 48-hour notice and put a sticker on their door and say they’re going to be shut off,” Hock said. “It’s our choice. Often, people will come in and negotiate a payment plan.”

Hock said he is more concerned about the millions of dollars in local shares of taxes that Joliet has not seen since the budget impasse began. They include $8.3 million in casino taxes, $1 million in motor-fuel taxes and $200,000 in video gaming taxes.

The state has held onto that money, too, on the basis it cannot be distributed until a budget is enacted.

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