Friday, January 22, 2021
Tyler Waldman, WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5
Baltimore will not outsource its water meter operations, city leaders announced Friday afternoon.
In October, former Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced the city’s Department of Public Works would outsource meter reading and maintenance to a private company, Itron, and lay off 68 city meter operations employees.
On Friday, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, City Administrator Chris Shorter and Acting DPW Director Matthew Garbark the city will not outsource meter shop operations.
“The city is not moving forward with the Itron contract and they will not be laid off,” Scott said. “Our meter shop workers are a part of our Baltimore family. They have my support as mayor, especially in this time of transition when we recognize the change in technology and change in scope of their work.”
The meter shop manages the placement and maintenance of all city and Baltimore County water meters. Sixty-nine City employees are currently assigned to the Meter Shop, 92% being residents of Baltimore City, the mayor said.
In a statement, the mayor’s office said the core duties of the meter shop include:
-Driving collector vehicles around Baltimore County to collect county meter reads and addressing issues discovered in the field;
-Responding to kick out from the city system to assess errors, and triage issues causing the kick out;
-Responding to customers who have reported issues with the meter — examining, repairing, replacing and removing;
-Performing turn-offs or turn-ons as required and needed; and
-Managing the towers, receivers and other equipment/infrastructure.
Shorter said the city will train and equip its employees with the tools and skills necessary to deliver quality services.
“Water meters are the key component in how utilities generate bills,” Garbark said. “It is critical that our meters work properly, they are the first things we check when a customer questions the accuracy of their bills. However, instead of looking to the private sector to help improve these operations, as Mayor Scott just mentioned, we’re going to do just the opposite. We’re going to be focusing intensely on the meter shop, investing in our employees, and strengthening their knowledge and skills.”
Steve Stricklin, director of the Mayor’s Office of Project Management, will serve as acting director of the meter shop.
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