Originally Posted by why
Do you happen to own a water park or hydroelectric plant?
Amusingly enough, the first thing the commissioner asked us when we sat down in our conference this morning was "you haven't been operating a car wash out of your home, have you?"
The back story on my water bill:
A few years ago (late 2010) I had a leak in the main water service to my house, between the street and the home. I did not notice it for about 9 months because there was no abvious evidence of the water leaking anywhere (it was underground and just seeping I suppose in an inconspicuous location) and because we did not occupy the house at the time. It was a home in need of significant repairs and we were planning and saving for the work. I had the main water valve in the basement turned off so I didn't even bother to open the bills. When I finally did, I had a ~$2,500 water bill.
I made a few phone calls at the time and got absolutely nowhere with DPW. I ended up having to pay the bill because it was interfering with closing on our financing. I decided I'd get around to formally disputing it at some point, but just never quite got around to going downtown. I had little expectation of actually getting anywhere anyways, and I mostly wrote it off as a loss to my own stupidity. In the meantime, I had a plumber turn the water off at the meter.
In mid-2011, when we started reconstruction of the house, the first repair was to replace the entire water service from the meter into the house. They dug a trench and re-did the entire line. We moved in in late 2011 and started receiving normal water bills. Things were grand.
Last spring, I noticed that an area in the front yard had some particularly vigorously growing grass. Then I noticed it developing into a marshy area. I called my contractor, who pretty much blew me off saying "it's a brand new service, it must be something else," until I forced him to come out and have a look. By that time, I had a spring in my front yard, water running down the street. Of course, they had to dig up the front yard again (under warranty this time) and re-replace the new water service, and I braced myself for the bill. Nearly $4,000.
Now I was really livid, and refused to pay without talking to someone in charge.
Originally Posted by in stitches
bmore had a serious issue with their water bills. things got way out of hand. crazy bills for crazy money for no reason.
In the meantime, this had happened. It has been a huge public scandal. I think we are a bit lucky that it did. Though our problem was a mechanical failure, times two, this scandal about overcharged Baltimore residents and, literally, millions of dollars in refunds due to thousands of city residents really put DPW on its heels. The difference between the customer service I received when trying to dispute the first bill and now has been night and day. They've assigned people to do "informal conferences," e.g. one-on-one hearings where they will consider adjusting your bill.
In our municipality, about 1/3 of the bill is for water, and the other 2/3 of the bill is for sewer. There is no meter going out of your home; they presume all the water in ends up coming out, and they apply a higher rate for the wastewater management. I think even under the old regime, we should have been entitled to a bill adjustment writing off the sewer component for all the bills. But today, though it took a few fits and starts to get an appointment date with the commissioner, we went in, presented our case, including signed statements and invoices from our contractor, and they rapidly agreed to write down all of the large bills, dating back to the 2010 problems, to a de minimis amount. I don't have an updated bill, but I am led to believe that this should result in a roughly $6,000 adjustment.