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Niles-Glenview Water Dispute Escalates

Niles sues for the $4 million it says Glenview owes, plus $1.84 million in punitive damages. Glenview says Niles has not turned over documents judge ordered it to release.

The village of Niles went on the offensive today in its ongoing dispute with Glenview over water bills. 

Niles issued a statement saying the Village of Glenview owes Niles more than $4 million in unpaid water bills and interest. It's also asking for $1.84 million in punitive damages from Glenview for what is termed as "fraudulently misrepresenting the reasons it refuses to pay the bills."

Glenview countered with its own statement, saying Niles's statement got several things wrong, including the nature of the dispute, the nature of Glenview's claim, the amount in dispute and even the number of North Maine Utilities customers.

Glenview owns North Maine Utilities, which buys Lake Michigan water from Niles and supplies it to 44,000 residents who mostly live in unincorporated areas southwest of the village. 

Niles does not charge residents a sewer fee, while North Maine bundles a sewer fee into what it charges its customers. 

Niles said it became aware the 74 Niles residents who receive water from North Maine Utiities were being charged that sewer fee, and decided to rebate them 19 percent of the cost of their bills, in order to put them on an even footing with the rest of Niles residents in terms of paying water bills but no sewer bills, the statement explained. 

This week's statement from Niles addresses that as follows: 

"At the heart of the dispute is a 19 percent discount or credit Niles offered to 74 Niles residential water customers for 15 and a half months between April 2010 and July 2011.  The residents received sewer service from North Maine and paid North Maine sewer service charges.  The agreement between Niles and Glenview provides that the water rate Niles charges Glenview shall be the lowest rate to any user in Niles.  Niles said the water rate charged these customers was the same as that charged to its more than 8,700 other residential water customers. Niles does not include a sewer charge on its water bills."

Glenview maintained, in this week's statement as it has in the past, that Niles says it has no sewer charge but in fact bundles its sewer charge into its water charge. This week's statement from Glenview addresses that as follows: 

"Niles is supposed to charge North Maine Utilities customers the lowest water rate that it charges any of its residents. From at least 2002 to 2010, Niles charged its residents a lower rate than it charged North Maine customers, in violation of the water supply agreement with North Maine."

The Glenview statement also said it believes the full documentation will show "The (Niles) water rate includes a sewer charge, Niles just is not calling it a sewer charge."

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