Have you ever received an incorrect, outrageous or impossible water bill?

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First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church

 

First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church located at 811 W Saratoga St was severely damaged after lightning struck its steeple on July 10, 2007.   

 

Unable to pay a $12,000 water bill and faced financial problems that eventually would lead to threat of foreclosure.

 

Since the church fire this is a summary of charges for water.

 

April 12, 2007              thru        June 25, 2007                             $1,273.72

June 25, 2007              thru        September 28, 2007                    $1,242.38

September 28, 2007     thru        December 24, 2007                     $1,738.80

December 24, 2007      thru        March 27, 2008                           $1.871.28

March 27, 2008            thru        June 25, 2008                             $1,814.99

June 25, 2008              thru        September 29, 2008                    $1.977.71

September 29, 2008     thru        January 7, 2009                          $2,057.75

 

A total increase of 61%

There was a rate increase of 4% in May of 08

 

If this church is still closed from the damage.  Why is the water bill still increasing?

Maybe it was an erroneous $12,000.00 water bill that may have lead to foreclosure.

Like many other water bills throughout Baltimore City and County.

 

Taxpayers Dollars!

Errors are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and are

being paid for with taxpayers dollars!

 

    My name is Linda Stewart, I have concerns about the Baltimore City Water Billing System and the amount of errors that are occurring within the billing system. Errors are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and are being paid for with taxpayers dollars.  I have uploaded water bill information that I have been collecting for two years, water bills on many locations throughout Baltimore City and Baltimore County.   The spreadsheets will enlighten you on the amount of errors occurring in the Water Billing System. Locations that are highlighted in pink are the most concerning. One example is Montelbello Water Treatment Facility their water bill has fluctuated from $12,752.41 up to $529,074.81 and this quarter is back down to $16,212.53.    Baltimore would not be the first city that has a water billing problem New York Times has reported about New York City broken water billing system.  

To view  that article click here

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/12/nyregion/12water.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

 

American Brewery   

Sold $5,000.00  

Has Been Vacant And OWNED By The City For 30 Years

 

   Water Bill

 

Account Number: 09290238006
Service Address: 1701-29 N GAY ST
 
Current Balance: $3,603.24
Bill Date: 1/24/2008
Penalty Date: 2/27/2008
 
Turn Off Date:
 
Last Pay Date: 9/19/2007
Last Pay Amount: $840.25
Prev Read Date: 10/17/2007
Last Read Date: 1/14/2008
Last Bill Amount: $2,720.98
Previous Balance: $.00

 

 

Has Been Vacant And OWNED By The City For 30 Years

                         You Do The Math

Previous Bills

 

?? October 25, 2006  $    8,865.45
October 25, 2006 February 2, 2007  $       770.66
February 2, 2007 May 3, 2007  $       778.79
May 3, 2007 July 20, 2007  $       840.25
July 20, 2007 October 17, 2007  $       840.25
October 17, 2007 January 14, 2008  $    2,720.98

 

To see more details download the excel spreadsheet Museums

Unfortunately, water meters are not 100 percent accurate and can lose their sensitivity over time and fail to accurately monitor how much water businesses and residences are consuming. Inaccuracy in water use also results when the meters are outdated or in poor repair.

This is a serious problem and needs to be addressed, promptly.

In order to assure water is being accounted for accurately, meters need to be selected, installed, operated and maintained using generally accepted industry standards.

Meters should be regularly calibrated and tested in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.

 

Meter accuracy.

Water meters can be damaged and deteriorate with age, thus producing inaccurate readings.
Inaccurate readings will give misleading information regarding water usage, make leak detection difficult, and result in lost revenue for the system. All meters, especially older meters, should be tested for accuracy on a regular basis. The system also should determine that meters are appropriately sized. Meters that are too large for a customer's level of use will tend to under-register water use. Meters should be able to accurately record the full range of expected flow rates.

 

Below are letters that I have sent to Baltimore City,

the letters show errors that are occurring within the

Baltimore City Water Billing System. 

 

 You can view Baltimore City Water Bills by clicking on the link

http://cityservices.baltimorecity.gov/water/

Shame on Baltimore

To all concerned    

It is a shame that Baltimore City can not see how they are hurting the citizens of Baltimore.  

I have been researching water bill accounts for over two years, it did not take long before I realized how messed up the billing system is. I have emailed the Baltimore City Water Department, City Council, The Mayor, The Public Service Commission, The FBI, The Office of Inspector General,  The Office of Attorney General, Delegates and Senators and yet the erroneous bills continue.  

I would like everyone to stop and think about the elderly that get a erroneous bill, most of them would just pay the bill without question.  What if they could not afford to buy their medicine because they had to pay an incorrect water bill. Even if they were only over billed by $10.00 that could be one prescription that they cannot fill.  

Or the mother that might question an erroneous bill, but the Baltimore City Water Department won't admitted that it could be wrong, so she gives up and pays the bill.  Her child might have to eat a little less this month to make up for the difference.  

Another sad but true story.  A lady suffering with breast cancer gets an erroneous water bill, and her house gets put up for tax sale in part because of the water bill.  The Baltimore City Water Department schedules her for a water hearing on May 20, 2008.  She shows up for the hearing at 8:30 in the morning  she is the last case of the day about 12:30 P.M. she is so week she tries to sleep on the couch until she is called.  I was the case right before hers I woke her as I left.  Talking with her while we waited I realize I have heard her name before.  She is very active in her community helping police her neighborhood.   Her bill has fluctuated from $58.56 up to $1,193.00 where was the red flag for this bill. Why do we even have red flags (because the billing system is messed up)? Being self-employed and without health care she can not even afford her treatment for breast cancer.  I guess she will be another citizen losing their house this year over an incorrect water bill.           

How about a resident that might be evicted from their home when a notice of a past due water bill shows up on the door. A bill for thousands of dollars for the last couple years, but if the water department did their job correctly it should have been turned off for non-payment long before it reached such a high amount.     

Don't forget about the Baltimore City Council Woman who testified at a hearing in April of 2007 she received an erroneous bill. She called to complain not letting on she was a council woman. The water department comes out to check her meter, they said everything was fine.   Then she calls a plumber, the plumber did not find any leaks.  Sometime later she receives a credit on her water bill.  Did she get reimbursed for the plumber ( I doubt it ).     

Why should Baltimore City tax payers be charged $9,216.11 for one quarterly water bill for a drinking fountain that has not worked for years. This fountain still receives a quarterly bill of more than $200.00 and still does not work. If they are not going to fix it why don't they just disconnect the meter.    

It is not all bad, there are homes and business that are either under billed or don't receive a bill at all.    

As Councilman Young said "Something is wrong Everybody's House Ain't Leaking"    

Below is a bill for $3.88 and another one for $4.86 which is under the minimum charge for water.    

Account Number: 03390088007
Service Address: 4711 LIBERTY HTS AVE
 
Current Balance: $104.56
Bill Date: 7/17/2008
Penalty Date: 8/20/2008
 
Turn Off Date:
 
Last Pay Date: 4/22/2005
Last Pay Amount: $275.02
Prev Read Date: 4/18/2008
Last Read Date: 7/15/2008
Last Bill Amount: $3.88
Previous Balance: $104.56

       Search for a Water Bill

Water Bill Detail
Account Number: 03435333004
Service Address: 3720-30 POTEE ST
 
Current Balance: $5.10
Bill Date: 7/25/2008
Penalty Date: 8/28/2008
 
Turn Off Date:
 
Last Pay Date: 5/14/2008
Last Pay Amount: $56.13
Prev Read Date: 4/15/2008
Last Read Date: 6/30/2008
Last Bill Amount: $4.86
Previous Balance: $5.10

 Linda Stewart GaslightTavern@aol.com 410-428-1917

The Water Bills  

In 2006 I was overcharged for water on three different properties I own.  When I called to discus my water bills with John Brewer Division Chief Bureau of Water & Wastewater  I could not even finish telling him about my concerns about being over billed, when I was threatened with tax sale if I did not pay. Even though I was disputing the water bills my properties were placed  in the 2007 tax sale solely for unpaid incorrect water bills. One of the water bills that I was disputing was only 7 months and 19 days late the day it was sold at tax sale.  

In April of 2007 I attended a hearing that would have put a stop from including homes in the tax sale solely for a unpaid water bill, nothing ever became of that.  That same month Mayor Dixon was talking about amnesty for water bills, that never did happened. Then I was told their was going to be an Investigative Hearing on July 5, 2007 that was canceled at the last minute. That hearing was rescheduled for August 22, 2007 at this hearing I reported on the amount of errors occurring within the billing system. A few other frustrated water customers came to discuss their billing woes. I do not think many citizen even knew about the hearing if they did I think they would have attended as they did when Baltimore City held the hearing about the water rate increase. At the end of the August 22, 2007 hearing it was noted that the hearing was to reconvene at a later date, that never happened either.  Also at this hearing it was noted that a report was concerning the billing issues was due by the end of the year,  but nothing ever became of that either.  At this hearing Water and Wastewater did admit they fired some meter readers for falsify records.

 I finally had to pay to get my property out of tax sale in September 2007. In March 2008 Mr. Brewer finally suggest I have a hearing with the billing division. I had that hearing on May 20, 2008. A few weeks passed after that and finally two years later I was told I was to be getting refunds on my water bills. Still Baltimore City would not admit they made a mistake, they said I was getting a credit because they "we're trying to be as customer friendly as we can possibly can be".

My property also went up for tax sale also in 2008 not only due to my unpaid water bills , this year I was having difficulty paying all of my bill including property tax.  When you have to put out money for incorrect water bills it can be finically devastating. A "snowball effect" I had to pay my water bills so I could not pay other bills that were due,  then the late fees get tacked on and you never get caught up.  Having to pay for private water test did not help either.  

My water bill credits were going to go towards getting my property out of tax sale. but to this day the refunds have not shown up.    

 

Billing errors are not happening just to me , but many other citizens and business in

Baltimore City and County.   

  Mr. Brewer  

This account has been double billed.  

Below are the two bills one is only for 1 day June 27, 2008 thru June 27, 2008 in the amount of $8,717.73 the other bill is billed from June 27, 2008 thru October 1, 2008 in the amount of $2,700.04.  

Also  

From March 31, 2008 to June 27, 2008 they were billed $1,930.17 that was paid on August 25, 2008 which should have left a balance of $.00 From June 27, 2008 to June 27, 2008 they were billed $8,717.73 which should have left a balance of $8,717.73 not $7,126.94 From June 27, 2008 to October 1, 2008 they were billed $2,700.04 if you add that to the previous balance of $7,126.94 that should be a total of $9,826.98 not $9,487.60.      

The billing system is not getting better it is getting worse.    

Linda Stewart

 

 

Water Bill Detail
Account Number: 09430867003
Service Address: 272 DRUID HILL PK
 
Current Balance: $7,126.94
Bill Date: 8/26/2008
Penalty Date: 9/29/2008
 
Turn Off Date:
 
Last Pay Date: 8/25/2008
Last Pay Amount: $1,930.17
Prev Read Date: 6/27/2008Surprised
Last Read Date: 6/27/2008
Last Bill Amount: $8,717.73
Previous Balance: $7,126

Account Number: 09430867003
Service Address: 272 DRUID HILL PK
 
Current Balance: $9,487.60
Bill Date: 10/27/2008
Penalty Date: 12/1/2008
 
Turn Off Date:
 
Last Pay Date: 8/25/2008
Last Pay Amount: $1,930.17
Prev Read Date: 6/27/2008
Last Read Date: 10/1/2008
Last Bill Amount: $2,700.04
Previous Balance: $.00
 

  Mr. Brewer  

I noticed on the Asburton Filtration Plant account, number 09369027009 they were billed $64,122.21 why would they pay $585,465.18 is this another error?  

Also  

When I wrote to you a couple of months ago regarding the fluctuations at this location, on two accounts  (# 09257352006 and # 09257353004) you responded -  "The variations appear to be from adjustments for estimated reads."     # 09257352006 is now only $11,336.00 the previous bill was $87,431.82   # 09257353004 is now only $11,548.46 the previous bill was $71,924.57   Were these bills estimated or were they errors.    

According to the Baltimore City Code   Regarding Meter readings  

The Director of Public Works shall be responsible for having every consumer's accessible water meter actively read and the reading accurately recorded 4 times during each calendar year.    

Linda Stewart

GaslightTavern@aol.com   

 

 

If you would like to see the detailed info regarding this account, you can download the file

Montebello & Ashburton.xls from this website.

Last Pay Date 1986

Water Bill Detail
Account Number: 09083534009
Service Address: 3000 DUNDALK AVE
 
Current Balance: -$28.32
Bill Date: 1/5/2009
Penalty Date: 2/9/2009
 
Turn Off Date:
 
Last Pay Date: 2/18/1986
Last Pay Amount: $188.46
Prev Read Date: 9/10/2008
Last Read Date: 12/10/2008
Last Bill Amount: $10,080.00
Previous Balance: $.00

Another Computer Error?

Account Number: 09291466002
Service Address: 1922 BENHILL AVE
 
Current Balance: $.00
Bill Date: 11/17/2008
Penalty Date: 12/22/2008
 
Turn Off Date:
 
Last Pay Date: 12/27/1993
Last Pay Amount: $517.27
Prev Read Date: 6/26/2008
Last Read Date: 9/30/2008
Last Bill Amount: $400,449.60
Previous Balance: $.00
 

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