KINCAID, Ill. (NEXSTAR) – Jessica Heikes received multiple citations from the Village of Kincaid for a variety of different reasons.
They include a car being towed, an improper burn pit at her home, and for the foundation of her trailer home she and her family live in.
Every single one included the same warning at the bottom.
“The above listed charges must be paid within 14 days to avoid any further action,” the ordinance reads. “In the event the fines are not otherwise paid in the ordinance, the ordinance violator’s water service will be disconnected under ordinance number 862.”
Ordinance 862 allows the village to disconnect water services if ordinances are not paid within a two week period, or else otherwise designated by the village.
“I’ve had my water shut off twice,” Heikes said.
And she isn’t the only one.
Multiple citations sent to WCIA show violators have 14 days to pay fines — most of which are upwards of 200 dollars.
Several people said their water was shut off for not paying fines on violations completely unrelated to their utility bills.
“My water service has absolutely nothing to do with an ordinance violation,” Clare Duran, a Kincaid resident said. “You know, people have the right to have clean, fresh water. It’s not a privilege. It’s a right. And they took away that right from me.”
Duran took her case to court, filing a lawsuit with the village over the ordinance. When she filed her lawsuit, her water was reconnected, and she has gone on to have several citations since, with no disconnections following.
“There are several dozen other people here in Kincaid, that have received these ordinance violations and threatened that their water will be shut off if not paid within 14 days. So most people will just go ahead and pay this ordinance violation because nobody wants their water shut off.”
We have two children. I have my cousin living with me, he’s a disabled veteran. We didn’t we didn’t have the funds out the time to pay the ordinance and in two weeks.
Village officials say there is an appeals process, and that the village will work out payment plans. There is no direct appeals process listed on the citations, but residents have turned to appearing at monthly board meetings.
The policy was shocking to the citizen’s utility board, which fights for consumer protections. Members of that board could not recall another town having similar rules that threatened utili
“It strikes us as pretty outrageous,” David Kolata with the Citizens Utility Board said.
It might be legal. But just because something is legal, doesn’t mean, you know, it is a good idea. And i think when you’re dealing with something like an essential service water, and you’re only giving people 14 days to question a ticket, but you know, i don’t think that that that’s good policy.
Kincaid meeting reports from 2018 and 2019 show the rule was put in place because the village was having a hard time collecting fines issued by police. The board of trustees voted to allow the village to shut off the water to people’s homes — even if their water bills are paid.
We reached out to the mayor about this story today. In a text, he said “I don’t have any comment right now about any of it.”