Counties Taking Different Approaches to Stormwater Fees

A series of articles discuss the ongoing efforts of counties that are  required to adopt a stormwater utility fee under state law.    House Bill 987 of 2012 requires the 10 counties (Anne Arundel, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George’s)  to adopt a fee by July 1 and use the revenue to fund watershed protection activities to help reduce pollutants from entering the Chesapeake Bay and local waterways.  The legislation does offer counties flexibility in taking different approaches to the fees.

A May 29 Maryland Reporter article briefly summarizes the legislation and provides an update on the fee implementation status in seven counties.  Some stakeholders have expressed concern about the cost of the fees to businesses.

 Donald Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, noted the  “uneven fashion in which the policy is being applied will create among  jurisdictions instant competitive disadvantages that didn’t exist a year ago” in a column  last week. He added it will raise the cost of doing business in  Maryland.

The article also notes MACo’s concern that the General Assembly may amend the state law during the 2014 Session, requiring counties to amend their local ordinances.

“Our frustration is going to be that the General Assembly is likely  going to go back and modify this law forcing these counties in all likelihood to  have to go through this whole process again next year,” said Leslie Knapp, legal  and policy counsel at the Maryland Association of Counties.

A May 30 Frederick News-Post article discusses the recent decision of the Frederick County Commissioners to set the County’s stormwater fee at 1 cent.

In its first year, the new fee on an estimated 48,250 properties is projected to yield the county an estimated $482.50. Exempt from the fee are properties inside municipalities and land owned by the state, the county and volunteer fire companies.

The three county leaders who voted in favor of the fee said they did so under duress

A May 29 Capital Gazette article discusses the recent vote by the Anne Arundel County Council to modify the stormwater fee previously passed by the Council.

County nonprofits and the owners of multifamily residences will get discounts on their annual stormwater bills, the County Council voted Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously to cut fees for nonprofits in the county to around $600 an acre, roughly a third of the rate for commercial properties.

They also agreed to give breaks to apartment buildings and other multifamily dwellings, putting them in the same category as condominiums.

Officials with the county Department of Public Works said last week the two bills would knock about $400,000 off the millions the fee is expected to generate annually.

Prior Conduit Street Coverage of the Stormwater Fee Legislation