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Peru community faces water, sewage shutoff as owner owes $77,000 in unpaid bills

Posted at 6:36 PM, Oct 13, 2023

MIAMI COUNTY — Tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills could force a utility company to pull the plug on one community in Peru.

"Save us. Somebody help us please. We need it," said Lyndi Cook.

Cook is among the residents at Bourne End Mobile Home Park who are at the mercy of the owner, James Park.

He is accused of not paying tenant's utility bills.

Now, at least 22 families water service will likely be shut off in less than a week.

"I have two children and it's scary to tell your kids you don't know where you are going to be staying next week," said Cook.

Peru Utilities and the city say they don't want to do this.

"I am sorry, but we have no choice as a city. We are going to have to. We can't bankrupt the utilities," said Mayor Miles Hewitt.

Right now, Park owes more than $77,000 in water and sewage bills. Hewitt says it is supposed to be included in resident's rent.

"The current owner lives in Cali. He won't pay the bills or anything else. The people living there are paying their rent like they are supposed to. He's not paying taxes. It's come to the point where at $70,000, we can't afford to continue to give free service to them," said Hewitt.

The mayor says the city has already stepped in once to help pay the bills.

"It's really frustrating because the citizens that live there deserve better than what they are getting," said Hewitt. "And our hands are tied as a city too because we are doing everything plausible to try and get this situation under control and it's not being dealt with properly by the owners."

General Manager of Peru Utilities, Joshua Chance, says the company has been trying to work out payment arrangements, but says it has only received two small payments within the past 5 months.

"They've refused to communicate at times or they'll say they'll look into it," said Chance. "It's extremely challenging. On one hand, it's not fair to the 22 residents in Mobile Home Park, but also not fair for other 4K customers to have to pick up a $77,000 tab," said Chance.

They're hoping Park sees this and steps in so families aren't forced to live without running water.

"Just still hoping and praying that we do get proper resolve from the owner. When this happened before, the Board of Health got involved," said Hewitt.

"Hopefully he’ll make a payment, get us a payment, arrangement, line of credit — something," said Chance.

"It's very unfair. We are paying our bills, but essentially being evicted because we don't have basic necessities," said Cook.

The city of Peru has started the process of receivership, essentially taking over the property, and would be able to get a grasp on this issue.

WRTV reached out to Park for a response. He has yet to respond.

Peru Utilities is asking impacted residents to call on the Attorney General's office for help.