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You just saved $73,967.34

It's good, Rose Mary Cook said, that "when I opened the bill, I was sitting down." That's because the city of Mascoutah, Ill., claimed she used 10 million gallons of water last month and thus owed $74,000 . Now, her area has been having a hot, dry summer, but as Rose Mary puts it: "I could have filled every pool in southern Illinois and still not used that much." Her daughter asked if she was hoarding water during the drought. "I would," she said, "but I don't know where I'd find 10 million gallon jugs." When she regained her composure, she went to City Hall, where a clerk determined that the bill was based on reading a broken meter and issued her a corrected version, for $32.66.

Hotels where the tax might get you a room elsewhere

If your idea of a luxury hotel is one that offers pay-per-view movies, a chocolate on the pillow, and a morning paper at your door, you might want to stop reading now. Because at hotels that are truly upscale the amenities only start there and may well include a seaweed wrap and gourmet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Not surprisingly, they have tariffs to match. As compiled by Forbes magazine, the list of these hostelries is based on high-season rates for a standard double room that can run into four figures. (There may be discounts for those willing to travel during the off-season.) Its 10 most expensive hotels, their locations, and the cost of a one-night stay at each:
1. The Mansion at MGM Grand, Las Vegas $5,000
2. The Point, Saranac Lake, NY. 1,250
3. Little Palm Island, Little Torch Key, Fla. 1,095
4. Twin Farms, Barnard, Vt. 950
5. The Golden Door Fitness Resort and Spa, Escondido, Calif. 928
6. Cal-a-Vie, Vista, Calif. 785
7. Amangani, Jackson Hole, Wyo. (tie) Ritz-Carlton Central Park South, New York 700
9. Casa Palmero, Pebble Beach, Calif. 685
10. Inn at Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton, S.C. 600

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