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Plan to fight rising water bill costs

Plan to fight rising water bill costs
Posted at 11:34 PM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 06:39:31-05

Baltimore's City Council is hoping to make big changes to many people's water bills.

The rate increases have gotten so bad that city council President Jack Young said nearly half the people in the city don't pay their bills because it's too much.

With rate hikes sometimes going up a couple times a year— many people can't afford the basic need.

For some people, their bills are just wrong and they feel helpless to fix the problem.

The Department of Public Works is projecting bills will double over the next decade.

“I struggle, I’m now retired and so that makes it a struggle for me to be able to pay my bills,” said Suzanne Lebovit. “Just seeing the way bills going up and up is just incredible.”

Before the new water meters were put in Lebovit said she was charged astronomical and wrong rates.
Now she says the issue is unwarranted late fees.

“I pay my bills online and evidently the city of Baltimore just doesn’t understand that. I pay my bills on time every time. DPW doesn’t understand that and they keep slapping a fine on my bill for being late.”

An issue for years that the council decided needed to be fixed now.

All 14 members co-sponsoring a bill that would establish an income-based water affordability program.

People who don't make more than double the federal poverty level can pay based on their income.

“People can't afford water,” said 14th District Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke. “Water is a right, I mean yes we’ve got to pay for it because it costs money for the city to produce and bring into our homes and businesses but there are limits of what people can afford.”

The bill would make the cost of water based off of people’s income and create an office of Water Customer Advocacy and appeals.

“You have a right to appeal, you need a right to appeal in person with a hearing officer who has the authority to make a decision about whether you can get a reduction or not okay,” Clarke said. “We used to have that and a couple of years ago we lost it.”

The bill was introduced on Monday, but it still needs to go through several hearings before it becomes law.