We all deserve safe, clean, and affordable drinking water. Dave’s plan will drastically reduce our water bills and protect our most vulnerable residents — Seniors and Students — from having their water cut off.
In 2015, more than half of the outstanding water bills in Baltimore were debts owed by corporations. In a City where people’s homes are at risk of foreclosure due to unpaid water bills, it is unconscionable that our leaders don’t pursue these debts to our City that corporations owe.
We belong in a City that helps its people, not deadbeat corporations –– Baltimoreans need predictable, affordable water bills.
Nearly 11,000 homes hit tax sale in 2017 –– estimates say more than 70% triggered by past due water bills –– and it only takes $750.00 to allow the City to sell your home and collect their money.
It’s time to stop using public money from taxpayers and lifelong Baltimore City residents to bail out corporations who capitalize on a City that doesn’t do enough to collect from corporate debtors.
Water usage is billed by the size of your meter, but it should be billed in tiers. Right now, if you use 50 CCF* per month or 3 CCF per month, you pay the same rate as everyone else with a water meter the same size as yours.
Consider: Water isn’t the type of resource you should get a discount for buying in bulk.
For example,a hospital — we’ll call it “Just Hypothetical Hospital” can use up to 500 gallons of water per bed PER DAY. This creates disproportionate stresses on our water system, which residents are subsidizing. And because JH Hospital is part of a the nonprofit system “Just Hypothetical University” they already don’t pay their fair share of taxes!
WHAT ABOUT THE WATER ACCOUNTABILITY AND EQUITY ACT?
Some of Baltimore City’s leaders are on the right track, but more needs to be done for the people of Baltimore:
First and foremost, we must stop cutting off water in homes with studnets 18 or younger when they have outstanding water debt –– we know that water insecurity is comorbid with learning disabilities being pushed out of high school (dropping out), and poor test performance, let’s stop adding to that and be responsible stewards of our children’s future.
We must also stop charging seniors who are 60 and older for water. Seniors and other Baltimoreans on fixed incomes do not always have the financial flexibility in case of an unexpected or inaccurate utility bill.
Additionally, we must stop turning off people’s water access during the school year. Jurisdictions where students lack access to clean, drinkable water have reported higher incidences of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, as well as poorer test performance and school outcomes.
We must stop using public tax money from Baltimore City Residents to bail out big businesses who refuse to pay their water bills. Water isn’t the kind of resource you should get a discount for buying in bulk. Let’s use a tiered system based on ability-to-pay and usage to make water bills more affordable, intuitive, and predictable.
Finally, we need to hold our City to a higher standard for quality of water in rental properties. Baltimore can and should be the vanguard of lead poisoning prevention to ensure better health outcomes for our people.
WHAT WOULD A TIERED PROGRAM LOOK LIKE?
It’s tough to know exactly how tiers should be calculated. However, we do know that a tiered-program would allow us to bill “power users” and giant corporations much more equitably.
An approximation that allowed for a lot of “buffer” for the average sized household in Baltimore would be a good place to start. Maybe something like this*:
A tiered-program lets us treat residents and small businesses equitably, while making sure that big organizations aren’t being subsidized by Baltimoreans’ tax dollars — when our infrastructure is overlogged, it creates huge pressures on our systems, making costly emergency repairs and general upkeep more time-consuming and expensive!
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