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City launches audit on water bills, some residents say, it’s about time.

Posted at 4:22 PM, Oct 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-31 17:23:09-04

BALTIMORE — Kimberly Armstrong has been in her home in Northeast Baltimore for 20 years, but since 2014, she's had to bail her home out of three tax sales by the city because of what she calls faulty water bills.

And it's an issue she is still struggling with.

"I am still getting crazy water bills because they never resolved the issue from 2014. So, instead of my water bill going down, or the issue being resolved, it is steadily going up," Armstrong said.

It is now at nearly seven thousand dollars and Armstrong has done everything the Department of Public Works asked by calling in a plumber, checked for leaks above ground and below...even attended in-person hearings to resolve the issue.

But still, the bills grew without explanation and now, only to hear that the Ritz-Carlton downtown waterfront condos weren't paying a dime for 12 years.

RELATED: Ritz Carlton in Baltimore owes approximately $2.3 million in water bills

"I call it my state of pissed-off-ness because at some point, I mean this has just got to stop…you'd rather challenge me on your erroneous water bill but you never send million dollar, people who have million dollar condos a water bill? Does that make sense?"

It is a question many residents in Baltimore are asking.

Yesterday Baltimore Mayor Jack Young read a statement on the issue of the Ritz-Carlton saying, "we have plans to address it as well as address any other deficiencies within the Department of Public Works."

The total amount in back water bills is 2.3 million dollars; that was the reading on the meter at the residences along Key Highway when the city finally popped the lid and took a look.

Young says that discovery has prompted an exhaustive, multi-agency audit now underway to examine this property and every other in Baltimore.

"It is a big issue for us in Baltimore,” Mayor Young said. “that everyone who receives water from the city of Baltimore pay their bills."

But residents like Armstrong are incensed.

They say the water billing system in this city has been flawed for years.

No bills or high bills -- downtown or northeast, Armstrong says the city needs to get its house in order before she hands over another dime.

"I'm not paying a damn thing until they figure out what the problem and the issue is and address the issue that I've been addressing since 2014. That’s like me going to the ATM, holding up my bank card and telling someone, come get my money...let me give you the pin number," Armstrong said.

The audit is already underway, and the city says it could take at least six months, but the result of it will be made public.

In the meantime -- the mayor says the city will have to negotiate a settlement with the Ritz-Carlton.