Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Imagine getting a water bill that’s hundreds, even thousands, more than usual. It’s happening in Baltimore City. Now homeowners are taking their fight to City Council.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the contentious meeting.
Some of those people say they are in danger of losing their homes to tax sale, all because of what they say are mistakes on their water bill. Now the council is taking action.
City homeowners are waging war over water bill mistakes.
“So what do I do? Do I pay your inflated water bill of $530? Or do I take care of my child?” said Rhonda Wimbish.
Wimbish has been fighting a discrepancy in her water bill for a year. Now she’s just found out her home is in tax sale!
“I feel like now I’m being threatened to lose my home when I’ve done all I could to correct the problem,” Wimbish said.
About 2,300 property owners are set to lose their homes due to unpaid water bills.
“I won’t even wash, do laundry, until absolutely necessary because I’m afraid the water bill is going to go sky high,” said April Holland.
A scathing audit of the Department of Public Works shows widespread billing problems. The city is now issuing $4.2 million in refunds to 38,000 water customers. The City Council is now proposing a two-year moratorium on seizing homes until billing problems are resolved.
“It is a great embarrassment to see your home for sale in the public newspaper when you know you’ve done everything right except pay a water bill that is incorrect,” said Councilman Carl Stokes.
The Department of Public Works is improving the system, replacing old meters with new digital ones. The department has increased the number of meter readers so each and every home’s water meter is read accurately each quarter.
“We want to make sure our customers get fair, accurate, timely bills,” said Kurt Kocher, Department of Public Works.
Something customers say they want, too.
The Department of Public Works has also added more customer service representatives to help people who have discrepancies in their water bills.
Council President Jack Young will introduce the moratorium on tax sales due to unpaid water bills on Monday. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has spoken out against the move.