Berliner continues to look at WSSC bills -- Gazette.Net


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Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner is asking the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission for more information on why some customers have continued to get bills that are much higher than normal.

Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda sent a letter to the chairman of the commission May 14 saying that he wants the commission to provide new information on what might be causing people to receive bills substantially higher than normal.

The issue was first raised in March, when Berliner reported that his office had received “dozens and dozens” of complaints about their bills.

At the time, WSSC said the heavy snows during the winter had made it hard to read meters and led to a longer than normal billing cycle. People staying home because the weather closed schools and businesses may have also led to more water being used, officials said.

Berliner was skeptical at those reasons at the time, and expressed similar disbelief in his letter to WSSC Chairman Jerry Johnson on Wednesday.

“For months, I have remained unconvinced by the answers your agency has provided to my office stating that these bills are indeed accurate,” Berliner wrote. “How can it be that when customers are being billed hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars higher than their normal bills, your agency maintains that there is no issue?”

Berliner also included a list of about 60 county residents who had complained to both his office and the county’s Office of Consumer Protection.

Most of the customers lived in Bethesda, but the list also included addresses in Silver Spring, Kensington, Rockville, Takoma Park, Gaithersburg and Potomac.

WSSC spokesman Jim Neustadt said in emails that Johnson was looking into Berliner’s request and would get back to him, but the commission had already provided information for all but about 15 people on the list.

Berliner said Monday that he’s asking for WSSC’s help in trying to isolate what could be going on, since it’s clear that something is not right with the billing process.

Every time the issue comes up, his office hears from more people, and had gotten several more emails from residents over the weekend, he said.

rmarshall@gazette.net