Baltimore City plans to overhaul its water system, but the Department of Public Works will retain the city’s water meter shop operations and staff, Mayor Brandon Scott announced 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 would be keeping the 69 employees who are assigned to the meter shop, which manages and maintains city and county water meters.
“Rather than eliminate this operation and privatize core functions, I along with, City Administrator Shorter, DPW Acting Director Garbark, union representatives, and employees, have determined that it would be in the best interest of Baltimore to invest in our City and our employees.”
Instead of outsourcing the meter shop responsibilities, the city will train employees to repair meters more effectively, City Administrator Christopher Shorter said.
“Stopping the outsourcing of the meter shop is a declaration that this administration is committed to doing everything possible to train and equip our employees with the tools and skills necessary to deliver quality services to our customers,” Shorter said in a statement. “These initiatives are an exciting and new way for City Hall to partner with the utility and bring all the resources of the City to improve our water meters, which will help improve our troubled billing system.”
Meter shop employees are responsible for collecting meter reads and addressing issues, responding to customer-reported issues, turning on or off service as needed, and managing equipment and infrastructure.
Steve Stricklin, director of the Mayor’s Office of Project Management, will serve as acting director of the meter shop.
Scott has also directed Shorter and Matthew Garbark, acting director of the Department of Public Works, to create a team to manage the meter shop, develop processes for reviewing employees and operations, and retrain staff.
“I believe this new plan is needed to ensure fairness to the employees who have not received adequate training or leadership 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.”