3% water rate hike, 3.5% sewer hike proposed for Baltimore for next 3 years; down from earlier highs – Baltimore Sun – Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland 2022-05-04 13:52:13 –

Residents of Baltimore will face a 3% increase in water and sewerage charges and a 3.5% increase in sewerage charges over the next three years, respectively, under a plan introduced by Mayor Brandonskott’s administration on Wednesday.

The rate hike still has to be approved by the Estimate Committee, but will be subject to hearing during the Estimate Committee meeting on June 15.

Matthew Gerberk, deputy director of the Office of Public Works, said improvements to the city’s water billing system have increased income enough to propose lower tariff increases. Residents of Baltimore have faced more than 9% increase in water and sewerage rates each year since 2016.

DPW Chief Financial Officer Aaron Moore said the newly proposed rate hike was the lowest since 1998, below the US 8% inflation rate.

Nick Mosby, Chairman of the Estimate Committee, asked when rate hikes would no longer be needed.

“We know this is the worst since 1998, but we also know that residents face inflation and it is passed on to them,” Mosby said.

Moore said future tariffs will depend on DPW’s ongoing efforts to improve the city’s long-probleted water billing and meter repair system.

“We never go back to the high growth of the past,” Moore said. “What I can say.”

According to Gerberk, the city is focused on improving the city’s water meter operations and billing process. Baltimore manages a water meter system that includes 200,000 meters in the city and another 200,000 meters in Baltimore County.

In 2013, the city purchased a new system of electronic transmitters that could be connected to a meter that sends utilization directly to the city. In counties, measurements are not sent directly. Instead, city meter shop employees drive the neighborhood to collect measurements via a wireless computer system.

After the start of the pandemic in early 2020, a meter shop employee responsible for meter maintenance returned home for a fee, resulting in a large backlog of work instructions.Joint Report from Baltimore City and Baltimore County Inspectors In December 2020, the county alone found 8,650 open repair requests for water meter problems. 95% of them were unresolved for over a year.

At that time, an additional 14,000 meters in the city were out of order, with a total of more than 22,000 meters broken. Many people provided measurements with zero water consumption, the inspector said.

As of May 2021, the backlog of work orders was 7,600, Garbark told board members Wednesday. Later, he said the backlog was reduced to 800.

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According to Gerberk, the city is also working on repairing large commercial meters that aren’t connected to the city’s reading system or aren’t sending the city the proper readings. Large meters can be a hassle to repair, but the city’s income will increase. Mr. Gerberk said more than 1,000 people had addressed the meeting after the meeting.

“Every year we see a fairly high single digit number [percentage revenue] In particular, it’s an increase from large and commercial meters that are making money for the system, “Moore said.

Scott asked why so many invoices weren’t collected.

“Many of these controversies have been declining for a long time, reaching a level of complexity where all communications are disrupted and a stalemate is reached,” Garbark said. “Until now, there was no impetus to drive the solution.”

According to Gerberk, reconnecting large accounts requires a lot of tweaking and may even shut down plants or large commercial areas to access the system. He said returning these accounts online made “huge revenue.”

Mosby wondered if past water usage fees could be recovered from such customers.

According to Gerberk, in most cases the meters are working fine, but the readings have not been sent to the city’s collection system. In such cases, past measurements are available from the meter and can be billed based on past charges.

3% water rate hike, 3.5% sewer hike proposed for Baltimore for next 3 years; down from earlier highs – Baltimore Sun Source link 3% water rate hike, 3.5% sewer hike proposed for Baltimore for next 3 years; down from earlier highs – Baltimore Sun

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