Managers delinquent in paying bill

By Tom Omiatek

Residents of High Meadows Apartments had to go without water Tuesday morning, after the building’s management failed to pay the water bill.

Despite numerous notices by the DeKalb Municipal Office billing department, the managers of these apartments did not pay the water bill. As a result, water was shut off in all 96 apartments until the bill was paid late Tuesday morning.

“It was not a case of insufficient funds to pay the bill but a breakdown of management,” said Bill Nicklas, code enforcement coordinator for the DeKalb office.

Nicklas said the city allows managers 60 days past the due date to pay the bill. After this time, a final notice is sent, he said. He said the management of High Meadows Apartments, 1400 W. Lincoln Hwy., failed to respond to the notices.

“They (the management) probably forgot,” Nicklas said. “If that was the reason they gave, then that reason is not acceptable,” he said.

The management of the apartments were unable to be reached for comment. There was a sign on the door of the apartment’s main office which read “office closed for internal audit.”

According to residents at the apartments, the water was turned off sometime before 8 a.m. Tuesday. The water was turned back on Tuesday afternoon, said NIU senior Marie Sasso, a resident at the apartments.

“I was really angry when I woke up and found out there was no water. I called the office a few times to find out why it was turned off, but I didn’t get an answer. I left a few messages on their answering machine,” Sasso said.

NIU graduate student Mike Kohlenberger, also a resident, said he talked with one of the managers shortly after 8 a.m. about the shut-off. He said the manager did not seem to know why the water was turned off.

“She said something about not knowing why the water was off. She said the city decided to turn the water off, but she didn’t know why,” Kohlenberger said.

Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said the management posted a sign at the office during the day which stated an apology from the management for the inconvenience to the residents. He said the sign did not state any reason for the water being shut off.

Nicklas said this was the first time they had to shut off the water at High Meadows Apartments. He said one possible reason for not paying the water bill was because it usually is the smaller bill and people tend to put it off as not being a priority on their payment schedules.

DeKalb building codes require “potable,” or drinkable, water in buildings for health and sanitary reasons, Nicklas said. He said if the water was not turned back on by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the apartments would be evacuated.

“Our efforts are immediately to get the management to pay the bill, which they did,” Nicklas said. He said his department’s responsibility is to act as an “intermediary” for the crews at the water plant and the billing department. He said his department will listen to the managers’ problems and work out a payment schedule.