BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore mayor Jack Young announced immediate changes to the city’s water billing and meter reading system that will result in the layoffs of 63 meter operations employees.
The mayor said it’s become abundantly clear that the Department of Public Works cannot sustain its current meter operations, which generates water bills. The city said these changes will save customers $10 million in the first year, $50 million over five years.
“Our customers deserve accurate and timely water bills,” said Young. “The fact that this continues to be an issue even after we invested in automated meters means that we must take further action to address the problem. Outsourcing meter reading and small meter installation and maintenance to a vendor with a wealth of expertise in this area will not only increase revenue but also reduce operational costs creating savings for our customers.”
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The mayor said the DPW’s Customer Service and Support Division has struggled for many years to provide an accurate and timely meter reading, meter maintenance and fieldwork documentation to help provide accurate bills to customers.
He said despite the installation of $150 million worth of automated meters, the struggles continued.
“The automated meters are intended to minimize the need for meter reading, but issues have persisted regarding maintenance and installation errors, responsiveness, and overall problem-solving,” the mayor’s office said in a release. “As a result, the decision has been made to outsource meter reading and small meter installation and maintenance in Baltimore City and Baltimore County to Itron, a third-party vendor that has significant knowledge and experience in metering and the automated technology in use in Baltimore. Large meter installation and maintenance in Baltimore City and Baltimore County has already been outsourced for many years to various vendors and that will continue.”
As a result of this change, 63 meter operations employees will be laid off.
“The Itron contract does not require Itron to hire laid-off employees,” the mayor’s office said. “The City will work with the affected employees to determine if there are other employment opportunities within the City.”
Mayor Young said the change will bring about the following benefits:
- Improvement in meter reading and billing accuracy
- Improvement in timely bill production
- Increase in revenue
- Reduction in utility operational costs
- The outsourcing will save the utility approximately $10 million a year and approximately $50 million savings over the 5-year term of Itron’s contract. These savings will be used to provide additional assistance to Baltimore
- City water customers as mandated by Council Bill 20-0626 Water Accountability and Equity Act.