REALITY CHECK: The truth behind expensive utilities in Chatham

REALITY CHECK: The truth behind expensive utilities in Chatham (WICS Photo)

CHATHAM, Ill. (WICS) -- Utility costs in the Village of Chatham has been debated for years with neighbors claiming their utilities are through the roof.

Chatham resident Janie Farmer says she alerted the State Attorney General's office about her waterbill.

"It is me and a child in my the house and the Village says that I'm using 10,000 gallons of water per month, which averages about $200 per month for water and sewer costs.

Village Mayor and Board President Dave Kimsey told News Channel 20 that Farmer's discrepancy was due to a meter issue. A new meter has since been installed.

As far as refunds, it is Village policy that customers only receive refunds within one year. Farmer says she's been overcharged for four years.

"It is my money, I deserve to have the money refunded," Farmer said.

The Village Board met on Tuesday to address that policy. It was decided that board members would further research the change to see if extending the rebate window is viable.

"The board is considering if one year is an appropriate policy," Kimsey said. "We'll look around and see the policies of other communities to see what works and whats in place."

Farmer says the issue is beyond a simple bad meter. She says utilities are too high.

"Its a ridiculous amount of money," Farmer said.

News Channel 20 learned that Chatham's rate of $.11 per kilowatt hour for electricity is about average in Illinois, but costs for water service is a different story.

In Chatham, there is a $25.99 facility fee per month and $9.58 per one-thousands gallons of water used.

Comparing that figure to Rochester, IL, fees and consumption charges are $20.40 total.

Rates in Springfield, Jacksonville, Taylorville and Decatur, are all significantly less.

"It goes back to the decision of internal infrastructure needs," Mayor Kimsey said. "Pipe-wise, you have to replace them. Facilities need constructed, storage capacity , staff and meter maintenance is needed to keep them in operation on a day-to-day basis."

Village leaders say utility staff members make sure bills are accurate each month.

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