Reports of $1,000 water bills owed by Lyons village residents after having a new water meter installed have been the cause of turmoil for some homeowners.
Village resident Traci Hollebrandt said after her neighbor was a recipient of a $1,000 bill and given only 30 days to pay it, she feared receiving the same — an expense she couldn’t afford as a single mother of three children. So Hollebrandt refused to have the meter changed, and as a result the village issued a letter threatening to shut off her water unless the meter change is completed by the end of the month.
Mayor Terry VanStean confirmed large water bills had been issued to some residents, but vastly more residents received a bill that was typical of previous ones. A couple years ago, the village began moving to a new system that required new meters at village homes, the mayor said. The new system will allow the village to monitor water usage regularly, VanStean said, and alert residents to a problem, such as a leak, within 24 hours should water usage rise suddenly at a home. Changing the meters is done at no charge to homeowners.
The old meters weren’t always reading accurately, VanStean said, and in some cases, village employees were unable to access the meter to get an exact reading. As a result, village officials began estimating water bills for those residents based on past water usage, he said. But the village was dealing with water loss and was unable to track it or find the problem. When the old meters are replaced, a final reading is taken on them, VanStean said, and when reconciling water usage, it was determined some residents had used more than they had been billed for previously — explaining the water loss. VanStean said this was something residents were warned about when the project started.
On the brighter side, VanStean said the new system will likely save residents money in the long term in the event they have a leak. Although it can’t forgive bill amounts, the village will work with residents who receive a large water bill to make payments over the next three months, VanStean assured.
Hollebrandt said she has scheduled an appointment to have her meter changed and was pleased to learn the new administration in the village will work with residents should she need some help.