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Restaurant Owner Charged $56,000 For Two Months Of Water

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A restaurant owner says he almost had a heart attack when he opened a water bill that turned out to be $56,000 for two months. And he says the city's response hasn't made it much better.

Tony Barbanente has been cooking authentic Italian food and serving North Park for almost 40 years.

"It's like I'm married to the restaurant," he said. "If you don't love what you're doing, forget about it."

But the fire that keeps his family business going could go out soon with that bill.

"My heart dropped," he said. "$56,000. It's impossible. I went numb."

Barbanente said based on what he usually pays $56,000 should cover more than two years of water and sewer.

"It's a mistake," he said.

They're numbers he says a city inspector and plumber who found no leak and the two men who came to check his meter couldn't explain.

"They said it doesn't match. There's something wrong," he said. "Then I never heard anything more."

But he's still expected to pay. And he says that bill could put him out of business.

"I don't have that kind of money," he said.

CBS 2 called the city and filed requests with three different offices. Barbanente says he's done that more than once.

But now, with a warning in hand, those calls and requests mean a little more with every passing day.

"I don't want to show up here and have the water turned off and be out of business," he said.

A spokesperson from the city's Department of Water told CBS 2 that on Monday they plan on removing, replacing and testing that water meter to see what's going on.

They did not respond to questions about why that was not the department's response when Barbanente reached out.

CBS 2 will follow up on the switch next week.

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