Baltimore City is planning an overhaul of its water system, but the public works department will keep the operations and staff of the city's water meter business, Mayor Brandon Scott announced on Friday.
In October, former Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young announced plans to outsource water meter operations to a contractor, Itron Inc.
But on Friday, Scott said the city will keep the 69 employees assigned to the meter business, which manages and maintains the city and county water meters.
“Rather than eliminating this operation and privatizing core functions, I have worked with City Administrator Shorter, Deputy Director of DPW, Garbark, union representatives and employees to find that it is in Baltimore's best interest to invest in our city and our people. ”
Instead of outsourcing the responsibilities of the meter shop, the city will train employees to repair meters more effectively, said city administrator Christopher Shorter.
"The cessation of outsourcing the meter business is a statement that this administration is making every effort to train our employees and equip them with the tools and skills necessary to provide quality service to our customers," Shorter said in a statement. "These initiatives are an exciting and new way for City Hall to work with the utility and use all of the city's resources to improve our water meters, which will help improve our troubled billing system."
The meter shop staff are responsible for taking meter readings and troubleshooting issues, responding to customer reported issues, turning the service on or off as needed, and managing equipment and infrastructure.
Steve Stricklin, director of the Mayor's Office of Project Management, will serve as deputy director of the meter shop.
Scott has also directed Shorter and Matthew Garbark, acting director of the public works department, to form a team to manage the meter shop, develop processes to review staff and operations, and retrain staff.
"I believe this new plan is needed to ensure fairness to employees who have not received adequate training or guidance in the past," Scott said in a statement. "I look forward to better managing this operation for the benefit of our residents across the city."
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