Baltimore’s water bureau is requesting $552,000 to replace some of the 16,000 water meters that have been a major source of the overbilling of customers.
The bureau is asking the city Board of Estimates to approve tomorrow an extra work order (EWO) to let contractor Spiniello Companies begin converting inside meters to outside meters, which should allow easy access to meters and reduce the number of estimated customer billings.
The water bureau acknowledged last month – in response to a critical audit by the City Comptroller’s Office – that it had overcharged 38,000 customer accounts $4.3 million over the last three years. Many of these overcharges were caused by successive estimated readings.
Rudolph S. Chow, chief of the agency, told The Brew today that he wants to “move forward with the conversion of a subset of ARB meters [remote-read inside meters] which no longer function, while we pursue an independent contract to convert the remaining 10,000-plus ARB meters.”
Chow said the agency will replace the meters as soon as possible to ensure that all customer bills are based on actual meter readings. The water system has about 410,000 active accounts in Baltimore city and county. More than 92% of customer bills were based on actual readings at the end of last year, he said.
The agency is crediting overbilled customers in the current billing cycle.