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Chow to replace Foxx as head of city's public works agency

Rudy Chow, who's overseen the city's troubled water-billing system since 2011, will be promoted to head Baltimore's Department of Public Works, the mayor's office said Friday.

Chow, who now makes $132,000, will receive a raise to $163,200 and replace Alfred H. Foxx, who has worked for city government since 2001.

Foxx, who made $160,000 annually, will resign his position Jan. 31. He plans to move to Cincinnati to work in a relative's construction and facilities maintenance business, officials said.

"My goal has been to improve DPW and set a course for a more successful future, and I believe we have done so," Foxx, a former city transportation director, said in a statement.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake praised Foxx's work, citing expanded customer service and a recent plan to replace the city's 410,000 water meters with "smart" meters that can be read through a wireless signal.

The mayor said Foxx, 61, regularly spent days in the field with crews to learn how to deliver the best results possible, while always making employee health and safety a priority.

"Baltimore City has greatly benefited from Mr. Foxx's tremendous tenure of service and his dedication to improving efficiency for residents," Rawlings-Blake said. "I will miss his wise counsel, and I wish him the very best as he starts a new chapter in Cincinnati."

Chow, 54, has headed of the city's water and wastewater bureau since 2011 and has led the agency through some troubled times, including reports of widespread water-billing errors. He pledged to work to make Baltimore "cleaner, healthier and more attractive for residents, businesses and visitors."

Baltimore residents have long complained about erratic water bills, but the issue gained widespread attention last year when the city auditor found the Department of Public Works overcharged thousands of customers by at least $9 million, and an investigation by The Baltimore Sun uncovered additional problems. Baltimore provides water service to about 410,000 customers, half of whom live in Baltimore County.

The errors led to a tripling of sewage bills for customers of the city system who live in Baltimore County. The city also acknowledged that some workers had fictionalized bills. Chow pledged a series of reforms, including increasing the number of meter readers, inspectors and customer service representatives. Estimated and skipped readings have dropped as a result, officials say.

Chow will become one of five members of the city's powerful Board of Estimates, which approves all contracts greater than $25,000.

City Councilman Carl Stokes praised the selection of Chow.

"He's done a fabulous job thus far," Stokes said. "We all are concerned that they still haven't fixed the issue of water-billing and water meter reading. That's under Rudy. But overall the department is moving forward with strength under Rudy Chow. Rudy will be received well by the council and the overall community."

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