News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet seeking $819,000 from two township sanitary districts

JOLIET – The city of Joliet is seeking $197,000 from the Greenfield Sanitary District but is not sure where to go for payment.

Greenfield is the second sanitary district the city has threatened with litigation for allegedly not paying money owed to Joliet for several years.

Joliet claims it also is owed $622,000 from the South Ridgewood Sanitary District, although a lawyer for the district contends the amount is highly exaggerated. The two sides are negotiating a possible city takeover of that system.

In both cases, the city treats sewage coming from houses in unincorporated areas of Joliet Township and charges for its services. But city officials claim South Ridgewood has not made a payment since 2004 and Greenfield has not paid since 2009.

In the case of the Greenfield Sanitary District, city officials are not sure anyone is running the system or even collecting bills from all the homeowners in the area.

“We are having difficulty finding any organization or organizing group,” City Manager Jim Hock said. “Who’s in charge is kind of a question that needs to be answered.”

The city has sent letters to homeowners in both sanitary districts.

The Greenfield Sanitary District serves an area of 101 properties – not all of which are occupied – in the area of Rowell Avenue and New Lenox Road, said Joliet Utilities Director James Eggen.

“The principal for the board of that system – the individual passed away about 10 years ago,” Eggen said.

He said it does not appear anyone is officially in charge of the system now, although city officials have been in contact with a family member living at the same address of the deceased Greenfield Sanitary District official.

Meanwhile, both Hock and an attorney for the South Ridgewood Sanitary District said the two sides have been talking about a possible Joliet takeover of that system.

Attorney Frank Burkey said city meters inflate the amount of sewage coming out of the district. No payments have been made since 2004 because of a long-standing dispute that has been in court previously over how much South Ridgewood should be paying Joliet, he said.

“We’re prepared to give them [city of Joliet] about $155,000 and give them the district,” Burkey said. “They would own a very good system.”

Eggen said the South Ridgewood system was built in the 1980s and should be in good shape. But the city would have to inspect it before deciding whether to take ownership, he said.

Although Burkey said city readings on sewage are inflated, Eggen said South Ridgewood has not inspected flow meters as required in an agreement with Joliet.

“They’ve never done any testing to determine if they’re correct or incorrect,” Eggen said.

Bob Okon

Bob Okon

Bob Okon covers local government for The Herald-News