Hospital gets $133,480 city sewer bill credit Hopkins settles dispute over partial exemption

August 06, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Johns Hopkins Hospital will gain a $133,480 credit on its city RTC sewer bill as part of a settlement over disputed charges.

Baltimore bills customers based on their consumption of clean water. Most people discharge into the sewer as much water as they receive. The city, however, provides a partial exemption for sewer charges if the property owner can show how much of the water is used in processing or production and is not returned to the city sewer system.

Hopkins installed water meters in 1994 and realized that it had been paying sewer charges for more than 35 years even though the hospital wasn't discharging as much water into the sewer system as it received.

The hospital initially sought $1.7 million from the city for overpayment of the sewer charges dating to 1983. The city opposed the refund, saying a statute of limitations existed on claiming the overpayment.

Hopkins appealed to the city Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals. As a settlement, the city agreed to pay for overcharges incurred since the installation of the meters July 18, 1994, based on city codes. The city Board of Estimates approved the agreement yesterday. The money will be credited to future hospital sewer bills.

In other action, the estimates board:

Voted to change the way the city pays its bills.

City agencies will use credit cards to pay bills, as the state and federal government do. City Purchasing Agent John Miller recommended the move, saying that it will allow the city to pay vendors more quickly and provide auditors with a more detailed trail of purchases.

The action will save time by eliminating the need to write 60,000 checks and file 2,000 purchase orders each year, Miller said.

The board awarded the city's credit card account to NationsBank. "Electronic commerce is where we want to be," Miller told the board. "It moves us into the next millennium."

Approved spending $448,000 in bond funds on a townhouse development.

East Village, a townhouse subdivision containing 120 lots, is on the south side of Homeland Avenue between Charles Street and York Road. The original developer was unable to market the $150,000 homes during the mid-80s and the project deteriorated.

Crestar Bank, which foreclosed on the project, has 32 lots remaining. The replacement developer, Homeland Development, submitted a proposal to the city's Housing and Community Development agency to create two- and three-bedroom units that will sell for $119,500 to $155,000. Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc. will serve as the general contractor on the project.

Pub Date: 8/06/98

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