Imagine every month your checking account balance is bulging with additional income because your bank has been making deposits into it by mistake. You may know about it, or you may not, but either way the extra dollars are there and you spend it. Then suddenly, someone notices it, and the dollars stop rolling in, and your spendable income is diminished. Then to make matters worse, the bank wants those wrong deposits returned and charges you a fine for not reporting it.
That is the situation the City of Naperville has created by charging residents and businesses a monthly fee for trash pick-up, when in fact the city is not providing those services to residents and businesses who contract with a vendor other than the city vendor. The result is a class-action lawsuit against the City of Naperville.
You won’t see it on the city website, you won’t hear about it during a council meeting, you haven’t seen it in the local newspaper, and city council members are not acknowledging or explaining it. So much for transparency. That’s part of the reason for the class-action lawsuit; the City of Naperville did not give residents a fair shake to have their money returned.
Naperville city officials reported that income was less than expected for the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year. Undoubtedly, as residents and businesses begin to question being overcharged, and the class-action moves along at the speed of pouring cold honey, the city will experience some less income. Ultimately the city will notice a big drop in income when it comes time to pay-up.
The city is partially blaming the lost income on less tax revenue from less gas consumption; it’s down about $600,000 from the same period last year. City officials said the lost revenue was exceeded by expenditures being less than budgeted. This may be true, however not one word from one city official about unfairly squeezing money out of residents and businesses for service not rendered.
The next time you see a Naperville council member, or another city official, you may want to ask them about charging residents for services not rendered. Or if you see someone from Naperville’s legal department, you might want to ask them ‘what’s up with the class-action lawsuit?’ Chances are they will respond with the answer, “which class-action lawsuit?” You can be sure if there’s one lawsuit against the City that you are not hearing or reading about, there are others.
Anybody want to talk about local government transparency? You will probably see something about that on the City of Naperville website.
This is not the first time an article on this subject has appeared on this website, and if history is any lesson, it will not be the last. And like chicken little, yelling “the sky is falling the sky is falling” is not going to make it happen.
As I stated the last time this subject was brought up on this website, there has been discussion of this issue by city council during council meeting and it has been written about in local papers. And there was a notice on the city website advicing people on this very subject as well as a notice mailed out with city utility billing statements.
So, No our elected officials are not sticking their collective heads in the sand. No, residents are not being deliberately kept uninformed or misled on this subject. And yes when city staff is contacted by someone that questions this charge on their bill it is investigated and when appropriate removed from their bill.
As to lawsuit. What city, state or federal government is not the target of a lawsuit. These organizations are popular subjects of lawsuits since they are perceived by lawyer as having infinitely deep pockets, the best type to pick. But for a lawsuit on this basis to have a chance to win you have to show an intent to fraud, or lack of due diligence, or some kind of malice. And I have read nothing in any fully investigated unbiased story on this subject that indicates the city engaged in any of these things.