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Highland Park will appeal order to pay $20M water bill

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Highland Park's mayor said Tuesday the city will appeal a judge's ruling that it has to pay the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department $20 million for unpaid water bills.

Mayor DeAndre Windom said the city's legal team is "preparing documents to stop the entry of any judgment."

"We shall discuss, along with City Council, the effect of an appeal of this matter, the preparation of a temporary restraining order against the city of Detroit and lawsuits for debts owed to Highland Park by the state of Michigan and Wayne County," he said in a statement.

"Interestingly, the debts owed, and considering that there has never been a payment received from either the state of Michigan or Wayne County, shall cover a substantial amount of the indebtedness that is claimed by the city of Detroit."

His comments come days after Judge John Murphy of Wayne County Circuit Court issued the ruling.

Greg Eno, a spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, said the utility "cannot comment specifically on this case because of pending litigation; the department has been working diligently to improve its financial operations to ensure safe, reliable and accessible water and sewerage services for all its customers."

Windom blasted the water department Tuesday.

"The irony about this entire matter is that as much as we have tried to work out a deal with DWSD, they have constantly stated that, because we had an outstanding debt, we could not renegotiate or create a new agreement," he said. "That just doesn't make sense."

Highland Park covers of about three square miles between the Lodge Freeway, Interstate 75, West McNichols Road and Webb Avenue. The city, which is landlocked by Detroit, has a population of 11,776, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Highland Park has struggled with its finances for years. Last year, a state-appointed financial review team declared a financial emergency in the city.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2058