General Assembly May Revisit County Stormwater Fees in 2014 Session

Comments by legislators in an April 29 article raises further speculation that the General Assembly may revisit 2012 legislation requiring 10 counties to adopt stormwater management fees by July 1 of this year.  Regardless of whether the General Assembly reconsiders the stormwater fee requirements in the 2014 Session, counties must still implement some form of the fee by July 1, adding further uncertainty to what has been a challenging process for most of the affected counties.  The legislator concerns has been prompted in part due to a lack of homeowner awareness about the fee and concerns from nonprofit organizations and businesses about the size of their potential annual fee payments.

“Sometimes we do things that we have to go back and look at [again],” said Sen. Nancy J. King (D-Dist. 39) of Montgomery Village. “This could be one of them.”  …

Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer (D-Dist. 12) of Columbia, who chairs the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, said he certainly supported the overall goal of the fees — to support the health of the Chesapeake Bay — but the cost to businesses with large parking lots, for example, could be astronomical.

“There hasn’t been much notice. People are not aware this charge is coming their way,” Kasemeyer said.  …

Delegate Sheila Ellis Hixson (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said the legislation could certainly be considered again in the next session, and levying large fines against nonprofit groups and churches “was no one’s intent.”

The article also highlights the challenges counties face in trying to find a balance between charging a fee that accurately reflects the costs of mitigating a property’s stormwater runoff, which is mandated by the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load and State regulations, and not imposing onerous costs on homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits.  The 2012 legislation does require that the fee be reduced for a property owner who takes steps to mitigate a property’s runoff.