Board of Estimates Approves New Water Rate Structure
Wednesday Aug 31st, 2016
The Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved on Wednesday, August 31, 2016, a new rate structure for City water bills that does away with the minimum billing model, and instead provides a more fair, transparent way of paying for water and sewer service. Earlier this month the Baltimore City Council approved the move to monthly billing. All these changes take effect on October 11, 2016.
“The BaltiMeter Billing system provides a number of technological and economic advantages to our customers,” said Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Rudy S. Chow, P.E. “It is just one of the changes we’ve been putting in place to make Baltimore’s water and sewer system strong and secure for generations to come.”
The Board also approved a three-year package of single-digit water and sewer rate adjustments that will allow DPW to continue its accelerated programs of infrastructure renewal and meet federal and state mandates. The combined water and sewer capital improvements over the next six years are expected to reach $2 billion.
On October 11, water rates will increase 9.9 percent and sewer rates 9.0 percent; an overall impact of 9.4 percent. Rates will adjust by the same percentages on July 1, 2017 and on July 1, 2018.
But the new rate structure will ease this impact for many of Baltimore’s water consumers. For example, with the new billing model, a typical account with a 5/8-inch meter using 21 ccf of water (a ccf is 100 cubic feet, or 748 gallons) per quarter would go from paying $74.37 per month to $76.88. That’s an increase of just 3.4 percent. Some customers will be billed at a rate even lower than they are paying now.
City customers age 65 and older, whose annual household income does not exceed $30,000 will be eligible for a 43 percent discount on water and sewer consumption charges. And the credit for low-income assistance will be increased to $197, from $179, for eligible City customers.
Wholesale water charges to Howard and Anne Arundel Counties will be increased, as well as raw water charges to Carroll County. Baltimore County sets its own water rates.
Without minimum billing, City customers will be able to save money by conserving water. Monthly billing is a benefit because it is more in line with household budgets. Also, customers will find it easier to monitor and adjust their water usage, and even find leaks or unexpected consumption more quickly.
The new rate structure will apply the same per-unit rates to all users, replacing the declining block rate which had given a lower rate per unit of water for using very large volumes of water. Every customer will be charged a modest Account Management fee to cover the costs of Customer Support. Every customer will also be charged an Infrastructure Fee to cover a portion of the capital costs for providing water and sewer services. This fee is based on meter size.
The new bill has been designed to be easier to read and provide our customers more and better information. Customers will be also be able to update their account, and view their bill and water consumption online via computer, phone, or other portable device. This will enable them to adjust their water usage and to quickly discover potential costly leaks.
The last quarterly bills will go out to all City customers in September; inserts in the September bill will have additional information about the switch to the new bill. The first monthly bills will begin going out in October, and continue into November.
More information about BaltiMeter Billing – including an online calculator to help customers see how much they will pay under the new rate structure – is available at the DPW website, http://PublicWorks.BaltimoreCity.gov.