‘They’re jacking us around big time:’ Muskegon Hts. man says city isn’t playing fair with water bills

Posted at 10:38 PM, Jan 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-06 22:38:04-05

MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. -- Sitting in the living room of the home he's rented out for years on Highland Street, Chuck Schulk stared down at the the bills strewn out on the coffee table after learning the city is going to shut off his water service.

“I think it’s sickening, these people, nobody… I can’t afford that bill," Schulk said, referring to the water bill for more than $2,000 he still owes to the city.

After paying roughly $150-200 for water every three months, Schulk said his water payments for the home he rents out to a woman and her two children, spiked in August. He's been fighting with the city ever since.

“If I had a bill that big and it jumped that much, the city should’ve contacted me or they should’ve been out here looking," he said.

Schalk claims he's had technicians come out to the property to check for leaks in the water pipes but said none were ever found and he's convinced the problem is with  the water meter.

The city said Schalk's meter was checked by a third party, the City of Muskegon, which ultimately found no issue. The problem was a leak on the homeowner's end, not the city's, according to Natasha Henderson, Muskegon Heights' city manager.

“All I can say with this account, is that nothing is going to take the bill away, when the water’s been utilized," Henderson told FOX 17 by phone Tuesday. "We believe we’ve done our due diligence, and this does not happen a lot but unfortunately it can if you have a leak.”

Schalk, however, isn't buying it.

“I don’t believe it, I’d like to see the water meter, I’d like to get the numbers off the meter," he said.

Eddie Jenkins on the Muskegon Heights city council is taking Schalk's side in this battle, claiming he's just one example of many more in the city facing water bills that just don't add up.

“If there wasn’t a leak then there has to be a problem somewhere," Jenkins said. “I get every week, if not every other week I have someone who comes to me with a water problem."

Jenkins shared several water bills with FOX 17 from Muskegon Heights residents  showing what he claims are more discrepancies in the city's water department billing process.

“If one or two people come to me to complain then that’s probably something we can probably check in to rather and fix quickly," he said. "But when you’ve got more than 10 people then there’s a problem somewhere... and they’ve all got the same problem?”

In response to the claims he's received from other residents, Jenkins said he's planning a town hall meeting this Thursday at 6pm at Muskegon Heights city hall to address the issue. He said he's hoping to encourage anyone with doubts about their water bill to attend.

As for Schalk's water bill and outstanding $2,000+ balance, he and his renters are bracing for life without water service. City manager Natasha Henderson told FOX 17 the city is planning to shut off their service until at least 50 percent of the outstanding balance is paid.

But Schulk says he just doesn't have that kind of money.

“They’re jacking us around big time, I mean there’s so many people in here getting ungodly bills," he said. "I don’t know where the money’s going but I know this bill isn’t right.”