McIntosh Willing to Sponsor Bay Restoration Fee Increase

According to a January 12 article, House Environmental Matters Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh announced that she was willing to sponsor legislation that would double the annual Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fee (commonly referred to as the “flush tax”) from $30 to $60 per household “if no one else will do it.”  Most of the fee goes towards upgrading selected wastewater treatment plants to enhanced nitrogen removal (ENR) capability, which reduces the amount of nitrogen being discharged into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. 

Maryland’s Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee is proposing the hike. The new revenue is needed, the committee says in its new annual report to the legislature, because the estimated cost of cleaning up the wastewater treatment plants has doubled from $750 million when Gov. Bob Ehrlich first proposed the annual $30 “fee” in 2004 to almost $1.5 billion today.

“This is a tough time to be raising fees and taxes on anyone,” McIntosh told several hundred people on Friday at the “Maryland Forward” forum on sustainability at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills hosted by Gov. Martin O’Malley. But she felt the increase was needed to improve the bay.

UPDATE 2011-01-18:  Chairman McIntosh has indicated that her comment was intended to apply to the entire term and not necessarily for this Session.  It is still unclear whether or not there will be Bay Restoration Increase legislation this Session.

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