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Baltimore to repay Can Co. after erroneous $180K water bill forced building into tax sale

Baltimore officials are set to reimburse the Can Company this week after an erroneous $180,000 water bill landed the firm’s property in tax sale.

The Board of Estimates on Wednesday plans to authorize a payment of about $34,000 to the Canton firm to address losses the company incurred due to “several city water billing and notification errors.”

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The billing problems began in January of 2016 when a representative of the Can Company went online to check the firm’s water bill, which had not arrived in paper form at the company’s office.

The bill showed an erroneous balance of more than $180,000 — about $150,000 more than the company’s typical $30,000 bill, city officials acknowledge. The bill also had been mailed to the wrong address.

For several months, company officials worked with Baltimore’s Department of Public Works to correct the bill, and made a “good faith payment” of nearly $30,000, city officials said.

However, in May of 2016, company officials learned its property at 2400 Boston Street had been put into tax sale. Like the erroneous water bill, this notice, too, had been sent to an incorrect address.

The company had to pay about $218,000 to redeem the property — after the “unpaid” water bill had interest added on, according to the city.

City officials corrected the water bill, but Baltimore’s law department determined the payment of $34,000 is needed to cover “losses incurred as a result of the city’s errors.”

Baltimore has had problems with its water-billing system for years. In 2012, the city had to refund about $9 million from overcharging residents and companies. Recently, as the city switched to a new billing system, residents have complained of receiving bills in excess of $80,000.

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