tax dollars at work

A few weeks ago I contacted the City of Baltimore to discuss our water bill. For the time we have lived in our home (well over a year now) we have only been billed the “minimum consumption” amount for water, and we have not been charged any sewer fees. We were enjoying the semi-free ride for a while, but then I started to hear horror stories of people getting $1000 water bills and I decided I’d better let them know of their error to get it straightened out.

A couple of weeks after my phone call, Department of Public Works personnel came to our house and dug out our water meter from under a good 10″ of soil and grass. (The fact that the meter was so covered shows how long our water meter went without reading – we’re guessing it has been about ten years, given the fact that the house was vacant for 7-8 years, then renovated, and then purchased by us.) I gave DPW personnel the benefit of the doubt and thought to myself that surely they would come back soon to correct the situation. (I know, I know, I’m so naive, but I do like to give people a chance to do the right thing before I immediately report wrongdoings.) In the meantime, we had a nice hole just waiting for someone to step into it, fall, and get hurt on our property.

On Thursday of last week, I filed a complaint through the City’s online 311 system. I used the choice words “hazard” and “liability” in my complaint to hopefully gain someone’s immediate attention. While doing yardwork on Sunday morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see a DPW truck pull up in front of our house. I talked with the guys, and they said they needed to leave to get a part to bring the meter up to grade. I thought to myself, “Great, they probably won’t be back for a week.” But, lo and behold, they were back by early afternoon and made the fix. We now have a non-hazardous, at-grade water meter. So exciting.

We had friends over for dinner on Sunday and I was telling our story, noting it was a great example of how the 311 system really works and remarking that it was an example of our tax dollars at work, even on a Sunday. Then one of our friends said, “Yeah, well, since it was Sunday those guys were surely earning overtime. That’s a waste of taxpayer money.” What a way to burst my bubble! I still reserve my final judgment on the matter until I see what our next water bill looks like.

Since the above photos of exciting water meters were not too exciting, here is a shot of our lovely tulips in the front planting bed. I’m not one to follow planting instructions like “plant one bulb every six inches.” Instead, I dumped about ten bulbs in each hole. I love the result.

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