News Feature | December 26, 2016

Baltimore Residents Hit With $81K, $35K Water Bills

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

money.reg

After Baltimore made changes to its water billing system, some homeowners got hit with very troubling bills.

“One homeowner in Baltimore's Medfield neighborhood got hit with a $35,000 water bill. Another in Northwest Baltimore received a bill for more than double that amount. A third, in South Baltimore, was even higher: Nearly $81,000,” The Baltimore Sun reported.

"Obviously, we were startled by such an absurd amount," ratepayer Michael Matten said, per the report.

Those bills appear to have been mistakes. Officials told the Sun that they corrected those bills and are addressing any continuing billing complaints.

“Public works officials began moving some 200,000 city water customers from quarterly to monthly billing in October, but acknowledge there have been some issues. They’ve also switched to wireless water meters that are supposed to improve billing accuracy, after years of complaints,” the Associated Press reported.

Jeffrey Raymond, a spokesman with the city's Department of Public Works, said the city uses an audit system that should catch potential billing problems, but the audit program shut down temporarily last month. He said less than 1 percent of accounts have experienced problems.

"This is not a huge significant number of problems that we're talking about. This is a result of an administrative glitch that happened for a couple of days and we've since identified it and corrected it," Raymond told the WMAR Baltimore.

Various other issues may make customer bills higher than normal at times, but this issue was separate from those periodic concerns, according to Raymond.

"Sometimes what happens is putting in new meters, or reinstalling meters and maintenance, the old read is at one level, the new read will sometimes come in at a lower level and so it looks to the computer as though it's gone around and come back a full circle all the way around and obviously that would indicate huge consumption," he told WMAR.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.

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