Reporting Pat Warren
BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Baltimore’s Board of Estimates approved a water and sewer rate hike Wednesday. The news may come as a shock to homeowners who already believe they’re paying too much.
Pat Warren has more on the decision.
WJZ told people about the city’s new increase.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” one resident responded.
The Board of Estimates has approved a 9 percent rate hike, which means the average household could see an increase of around $88 a year.
“At a time when gas prices are this high and people are struggling and especially small businesses, I don’t know how they can conceivably increase anything,” said Greg Catramados, Baltimore City resident.
This has long been the city’s answer to complaints about the sewer and water rate increases. Look at the number of water main breaks caused by an aging infrastructure.
But according to the Department of Public Works, Wednesday’s decision is required to meet the state and federal regulatory mandates and homeland security needs in addition to infrastructure replacement costs.
The city Board of Estimates approved the increase Wednesday morning, although the city comptroller thinks it may be unfair.
“There are billings that have not been read in years,” said Joan Pratt, city comptroller. “In newly constructed homes, the dwellers have not received bills. I just believe that those of us who are paying those bills are subsidizing those who have not received water bills. As I said, personally, I’m one household dweller and I’ve received two billings that have totaled over $800. It’s impossible for one person to have two water bills that total over $800.”
The Board of Estimates heard complaints from residents too who say they have never had actual meter readings, only estimates.
“My position is, we need to stop that estimator stuff,” said Daniel Lief, Baltimore City resident. “If you don’t know what the bill is, then don’t charge me anything.”
But the Board of Estimates has the final say on the matter. It’s not clear yet when the increase will show up on the bill, but it could take effect immediately.
The increase applies to Baltimore City and surrounding county residents who use the city water system.