We have been reporting on Baltimore City's water billing errors since the release of a scathing audit in February. We have looked at the struggles residents face as they fight to get their bills corrected, profiled a local activist who has called attention to billing problems for years and spoken with the recipients of a whopping $1.4 million online water bill.
But one ramification of the billing mistakes that we examine in Sunday's paper was brought to our attention by our readers: Baltimore County residents who receive inaccurate water bills find the errors are magnified by three in their sewer bills. Moreover, county residents who correct their water bills with the city public works department -- which oversees water billing for about 225,000 county households -- will need to take separate actions to get their sewer bills straightened out.
After our first water bill stories were published, about a dozen readers in the county emailed The Sun to explain the connection between water and sewer bills in the county. In many cases, county residents do not even realize that their sewer bills have been greatly inflated, because the sewer usage charges are wrapped into property tax bills. These bills are often handled by mortgage lenders.
Several readers told us how these high sewer bills chewed through their escrow accounts and led to significantly higher mortgage payments. We focused on the stories of two of these readers in our most recent story.