The Cleveland Division of Water is proving you don't even need a heartbeat to get a skyrocketing water bill.
As bizarre and insensitive as that may sound, Beachwood's Bet Olam Cemetery received a $5,095.63 water bill plus a shut-off notice for water the cemetery's supervisor insists could not possibly have been used.
The total bill exceeds $11,000 when combined with sewer charges.
The cemetery's quarterly bill is normally about $53.
Bet Olam, which in Hebrew is translated as "the house of eternity," is a non-profit cemetery founded in 1910 and remain one of the pre-eminent cemeteries in northeast Ohio.
Among the 12,000 interred there is Cleveland broadcast icon Dorothy Fuldheim — a broadcasting pioneer who spent 37 years at News 5 where she interviewed every U.S. President since Roosevelt and reported from around the world.
"It's kind of a slap in the face," says cemetery supervisor Mike Radigan.
"You know, 12,000 people buried here and they're making us a pay a bill for nothing they did and nothing we did. It's just wrong," says Radigan.
Radigan says the water department insists there was a leak on the property that the water department repaired.
But Radigan says that could not have happened without him knowing about.
"If this is spewing out of the ground--it's getting some of my people who interred here wet--and I won't, I can't have that."
Radigan says neither he nor his crew ever spotted a Cleveland Division of Water repair team on his property.
"We're very observant, I write everything down, every day when something happens on my property."
Radigan says when he asked the water department to show him a work order or proof of repairs--he never received it.
Yet even the grave won't stop the Cleveland Division of Water.
"They told me--you will pay that bill, you're going to pay that bill. I was being bullied," says Radigan who is refusing to pay for water never used.
The Cleveland Division of Water declined to comment, but did ask News5 Investigators if they "had any additional information to help them locate the account".
News 5 notified the water department of our upcoming report last Monday, Jan. 31.
Three days later, Bet Olam Cemetery received a new bill — and the entire $11,000 overcharge was removed.
No explanation was given.
More on our investigation into the Cleveland Division of Water.