Taylorville residents take it to the City over recent spikes in water bills
TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WICS) —
Taylorville residents confronted the city Monday over a massive spike in their water bills.
It’s not just a dozen people, the residents said, but at least half the city of Taylorville saw their water bills skyrocket around the month of December.
Megan Lee, a mother of four, said her bill is over $600, three times the norm.
She said she’s “getting robbed”.
“How am I supposed to afford a $600 bill out of nowhere,” Lee said. “And there’s Christmas, you know I have birthdays. And everything else coming up. What am I supposed to do?”
The City Treasurer Jacque Nation said it's for the better of the city.
She said back in 2014, the Illinois EPA mandated the city to upgrade their 1951 water plant.
The alderman at that time voted to build new.
“The old water plant is deteriorating because of age,” Nation said. “It’s mixed with concrete steel therefore 1951, the age of the plant, it’s just falling apart. We’re catching up on everything we had to catch up on.”
It’s a hefty price tag at $25 million.
The mayor said 4 or 5 years ago, the city decided to raise rates 25 percent each year.
This May, the increase hit full effect, doubling all rates, from four years ago.
“I think it’s ridiculous our town our size, and the people that live here,” said one Taylorville mother of three, Billie Heberling. “Some of them are on fixed incomes, a senior citizen can’t buy their food for the rest of the month if they’re paying $400 or $500 for a water bill.”
Monday, dozens confronted the city.
The city says everyone should check for leaks and that they'd work with individuals with payment plans.
But residents say they need more help, possibly with loans or with more federal help, as some can't afford anything else but their water bills.
“It’s a great place to live,” said Lee. “At the same time, it needs to work out the kinks.”
The city said the old water plant is difficult to repair because it only has one main unit. If they took it off the grid to repair, there would be a city-wide water shut down.
They also said when they made the decision several years ago on the new water plant, it was the lowest bid and that there were bids much more expensive.
A lot of the high bills could also be due to a bill backlog due to a server crash from the summer. Some residents have accumulated bills that span over three or four months during the server crash.