Residents and businesses face huge water bill increases if Westlake leaves Cleveland water system

CLE proposing steep fees for leaving water system

WESTLAKE, Ohio - Westlake residents who use Cleveland water are now facing a potential assessment that could cost them an additional $291 every quarter.

The Cleveland Division of Water asked Cleveland City Council to consider a measure that would impose the fee to Westlake homeowners and business owners in the coming months.

The measure is in response to Westlake's effort to leave the Cleveland water system and set up its own system with the city of Avon Lake.

Cleveland Public Utilities Director Paul Bender claimed the move would cost Cleveland more than $58 million. It's a cost Bender said he believes should be charged to Westlake residents.  

"If they leave, then there will be these costs, somebody has to pay for them," Bender said. "We don't think it's fair to saddle city customers and the surrounding suburban customers with those costs, so that's why we are proposing this action."

However, Westlake leaders say they believe it's their legal right to create their own water system. They feel they will save the average Westlake resident 20 percent to 30 percent on their quarterly water bills.

Westlake Finance Director Prashant Shah told NewsChannel5 the proposed move is also about creating better customer service for residents.

"A lot of it started with service issues. People were unhappy with the customer service they were receiving," Shah said. "There were bad billings, there were times when some bills were inflated. A lot of the residents were calling the mayor and council."

Shah told 5 On Your Side Westlake is prepared to fight the proposed water assessment in court.

"Certainly our mayor and council are going to take it on further, we'll talk to our legal department, and see what options we have at that point," Shah said.

The proposed water assessment will cost Westlake business owners even more, with large industrial facilities facing quarterly fees of up to $5,200.

Westlake has already taken the case to Cuyahoga County Court, hoping a judge will rule Westlake doesn't have to give Cleveland five years' notice to leave the Cleveland water system.  The case is still pending.

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