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Baltimore County hiring outside vendor to get water bills back on track

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Posted at 10:52 AM, Oct 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 15:20:36-04

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County will hire an outside contractor to assist with water meter readings, after billing was halted by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works due to the pandemic.

According to the a county spokesperson, billing will resume this fall.

“Residents deserve to have their water bills delivered in an efficient and effective manner. We’ve heard from many who are frustrated that they haven’t yet received their water bills and others who are anxious to receive their bills so they can budget for and pay them without any further delay,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “We’re taking these steps to ensure we address our residents’ frustrations.”

WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii recently reported on the delays in water billing for county residents while city residents began receiving bills in May.

READ MORE: Baltimore County residents wait to find out when water billing will resume

Baltimore City manages water meter reading and billing for Baltimore County residents and businesses.

Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works has advised that they will not be able to begin meter readings in the County in the near future, so the County is hiring Itron to collect water meter data for County customers. Itron will begin County meter readings in late October, according to a news release.

The meter data will also ensure accurate calculation of sewer charges, which the County bills for as part of its annual property tax collection.

In addition, the County will deploy four staff members from its Department of Public Works to assist the team in Baltimore City in preparing and sending bills to County customers.

County residents should expect to begin receiving bills beginning mid-November. The new bills will cover water consumption from residents’ last bill through meter readings this fall.

Baltimore County and Baltimore City have partnered to conduct a comprehensive review of the business processes that govern the water delivery system that serves both jurisdictions.

The system is managed by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works under an agreement that dates back to 1972, and a 1974 agreement governs the shared sewer system. The review, announced last year, is underway.

Water bill assistance
There are options for customers concerned about paying a high water bill. Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young reinforced that water service will not be shut off due to nonpayment and that late fees will be waived while residents deal with the implications of the coronavirus. DPW also has repayment plans for customers who fall behind in their water bills, as well as the Emergency COVID-19 Discount program. The program will remain in place until 90 days after the end of the current state of emergency or December 31, 2020, whichever comes first. The discount is good for one year.

To apply for the program, click here or call (410) 396-5398 to request an application. Applications by mail will also be accepted.