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Disparities even among non-metered homes

Updated: November 19, 2010 5:00PM



Delfino Cruz lives with his daughter and two grandsons in Little Village in a 1,689-square-foot house.

It's hardly a sprawling home. Yet Cruz, 79, a retired railroad laborer, pays more for water than most Chicago homeowners -- more even than his alderman, Ricardo Munoz (22nd), even though Munoz has a two-flat that's nearly 20 percent larger.

The city charged Munoz $256.56 last year for water at his two-flat, plus $218.91 for sewer service - a total of $475.47.

Cruz paid $444.36 just for water.

The city Water Department considers the Cruz home to be a two-flat. But the city waived his sewer charges -- a waiver that is only supposed to be available to senior citizens who own single-family homes.

Neither Cruz nor Munoz has a water meter. The difference in what they pay for water shows the disparities in billing that can be found in Chicago even from one non-metered home to another.

"It's so expensive," said Cruz's daughter, Cecilia Cruz Villa. "And we can hardly make it."

Her father bought the 111-year-old house in the 1970s. He lives on the first floor. She and her sons live in the basement.

Like all non-metered homeowners in Chicago, Cruz's water bill is based largely on the width of his house and the width of his lot. Several additional charges are tacked onto Cruz's water bill.

"That address is being charged for an additional sink, toilet and tub," according to City Hall. "Also, that address is being charged for a water connection in his garage" -- which two Chicago Sun-Times reporters were unable to find, though he does have a water spigot attached to a pipe that runs along a sidewalk in his back yard.

Cruz's home has two full bathrooms. Munoz has three at his two-flat, property records show.



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