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A small Detroit suburb filled with craftsman style homes, Presbyterian churches, and young families, Highland Park, Mi. can’t pay its electric bill and is losing its street lights.The Detroit News reports residents are concerned about safety and increased crime as 1,400 light poles are removed to settle a $4 million bill going back several years.
DTE Energy is pulling the poles along all thoroughfares and installing new high-efficiency lights on street corners, leaving most neighborhoods lit only by porch lights.
The city needs to cut its monthly bill from $62,000 to a manageable $15,000.
The effect on residents and businesses has been immediate. “After they took the street light from in front of my business, someone climbed onto my roof and stole an air conditioning unit,” Bobby Hargrove, owner of Hargrove Machinery Sales on Oakland Avenue told The Detroit News. “I feel like I’m being punished — I’ve always paid my bills on time, but they took the street light anyway.”
Hargrove also claims a police officer asked him for money to beef up his protection. “He contacted me about a week after my air conditioner was stolen and told me he’d make sure my place didn’t get broken into — if I paid him $650 every two weeks,” he said. “That’s like paying protection to the Mafia.”
DTE officials they did everything they could to assist the town, but the tax base is not adequate to cover the expense.
Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp is working to secure state or federal funding to get his lights back.
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