Water bills won’t be going out for June due to ransomware attack

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That headline sounds like a blessing—no more water bills!—but just remember it’s only temporary, and you will eventually be charged for running your faucet or flushing the toilet.

But for June, as with May, don’t expect any water and sewer bills to arrive in the mail or pop up on your account online, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for operations, Sheryl Goldstein, said at a press briefing today.

“I do not expect June bills to go out,” Goldstein said during a brief update about the city’s ongoing recovery from a crippling ransomware attack, now past the five-week mark.

You could estimate what your payment for the most recent billing period was based on the checks you previously sent to the Department of Public Works. Just be sure to document your proof of payment, she said.

And if you’re on a monthly payment plan with the Department of Public Works already, you can at least count on getting the same bill.

Those who do want to bet on their bill being the same and pay ahead of time can mail in a check to 200 Holliday Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, or show up in person at the Abel Wolman Municipal Building downtown (same address) and leave it in the drop box.

Goldstein said the city plans to audit all bills and have plenty of customer service staff on-hand to answer customers’ questions whenever systems do come back online. Those reps will also be able to set up payment plans for those with multiple months worth of payments to make, she assured. “I think there are gonna be a number of issues we need to address.”

All late fees will be waived when bills finally do start pouring out.

Goldstein said Baltimore City Information and Technology has restored computer and email access for about 70 percent of city employees at this point. That process began two weeks ago.

Per a release sent out by the mayor’s office on Monday, residents can still pay any parking tickets from before May 4, property tax bills will be mailed out July 1 as scheduled, permits can be issued (though not paid for), and the city has resumed towing unclaimed vehicles as of this past Monday. The manual workaround for real estate transactions implemented last month is working as it’s supposed to, officials say.

The estimated cost of the ransomware attack is $18 million, $8 million of which includes indirect costs like lost penalty charges or deferred revenue. Hackers initially demanded 13 bitcoins, worth about $106,000 by today’s exchange rate.

Officials have said it may take months for a full recovery.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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1 COMMENT

  1. Sorry, but we are NOT going to document anything until Baltimore gets the sewer & water billing up and running. We will only start paying our bills when we receive them in the US Mail. We simplify cannot trust a hacked system. We intend to pay everything that we owe.

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