Baltimore

Baltimore contractor Holabird agrees to pay $91,000 to resolve claims it bilked the city

Baltimore’s spending panel is scheduled to accept $91,746 to drop claims against an auto repair and maintenance service in Southeast Baltimore that allegedly submitted inflated bills to the city for payment.

Holabird Enterprises of Maryland Inc. has agreed to repay the money and accept the return of five unused snowplows. In exchange, the city and company will drop lawsuits against each other, according to a Board of Estimates agenda.

The board is scheduled to consider Wednesday the settlement offer from Holabird and its principals, Lawrence Ward and Daniel Foy. The agreement would also bar the company from any city contract for five years.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Ward declined to comment.

The claims against Holabird surfaced last July in a report by the Baltimore Inspector General, who found the Fleet Management Division of the Department of General Services mismanaged contracts and overpaid for services. Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming said Holabird overcharged for snowplows and service work to city vehicles.

Cumming issued a second report two months later that found another company, Baltimore’s primary tow operator, was also overcharging the city. She wrote that city employees had rubber-stamped the inflated bills for years.

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Baltimore County hires outside contractor to assist with water meter readings

Baltimore County will hire an outside contractor to assist with water meter readings, and will deploy County staff to assist the Baltimore City Department of Public Works with sending bills to County customers in order to avoid any further billing delays, Executive Johnny Olszewski announced Tuesday.

County residents should expect to begin receiving bills beginning mid-November. The new bills will cover water consumption from residents’ last bill through meter readings this fall.

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“Residents deserve to have their water bills delivered in an efficient and effective manner. We’ve heard from many who are frustrated that they haven’t yet received their water bills and others who are anxious to receive their bills so they can budget for and pay them without any further delay,” Olszewski said. “We’re taking these steps to ensure we address our residents’ frustrations.”

Baltimore City manages water meter reading and billing for Baltimore County residents and businesses. Billing for all city water system customers was paused at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and has not yet resumed for County customers.

Because Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works has advised that they will not be able to begin meter readings in the County in the near future, the County is hiring Itron to collect water meter data for County customers. Itron will begin County meter readings in late October.

The meter data will not only allow for water billing to resume, but is also critical for the accurate calculation of sewer charges, which the County bills for as part of its annual property tax collection.

In addition, the County will deploy four staff members from its Department of Public Works to assist the team in Baltimore City in preparing and sending bills to County customers.

Baltimore County and Baltimore City have partnered

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