Baltimore Mayor Young announces plan to delay water rate increases due to the coronavirus pandemic

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced Wednesday he will direct his administration to delay water rate increases for three months in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rates were set to rise roughly 10% on July 1, but Young said he is seeking to push back the planned increases until Oct. 1.


"This is an effort to support a comprehensive response and recovery to this unprecedented emergency without adding further burden on our residents,” he said in a statement.

The city’s spending panel still must approve the plan, which Young said will be presented in the coming weeks. The mayor effectively controls three votes on the five-member Board of Estimates.


Advocates for affordable water thanked the mayor for this decision.

“As Baltimore families have been facing extreme wage loss and record numbers of unemployment, this decision to suspend the 10% rate increase is the right one," Food & Water Action organizer Rianna Eckel said in a statement. “No Baltimorean should have to skip handwashing in the midst of COVID-19 over fears of unaffordable water bills.”

The Board of Estimates voted in July 2019 to institute a plan for water rates to go up 30% over three years to help pay for needed improvements to the city’s aging water and sewer systems.

Young, then the City Council president, voted against the change.

Baltimore will lose about $7.5 million by delaying the rate increases by three months, according to a city spokesman.

Baltimore residents recently should have received larger than average water bills — but that was because billing was delayed by several weeks due to complications tied to new teleworking procedures.

The city has pledged it will waive late fees and not shut off water service if someone doesn’t pay their bill as residents grapple with heightened economic instability.