Public hearing on 9 percent water bill increase set for Wednesday

Baltimore's Board of Estimates will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday on a proposed 9 percent increase to water and sewer rates.

The board meets in room 215 at City Hall, 100 Holliday Street.

The latest cost increase would raise the average family of four's annual bill from $1,170 to $1,276, public works officials said. The city has increased water and sewer rates by 9 percent or more all but two years since 2000 to pay for repairs to the aging system. A decade ago, the average family paid $517 annually for city water.

Public works officials also recommended rate increases for city water used in Howard, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties. These counties obtain city water for residents who live near the city line.

Officials say the rate increase is needed to pay for projects to replace or repair pipes, protect drinking water reservoirs and upgrade water meters.

The proposed rate increases come as the Department of Public Works has been grappling with high-profile billing problems that have been attributed to faulty water meters, outdated equipment and, in some neighborhoods, fictitious meter readings fabricated by employees.

Sun reporter Julie Scharper contributed to this post.

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