Carroll County and Municipalities Discuss Stormwater Fee, Potential Funding Agreement

A November 27 Carroll County Times article reports on Carroll County’s efforts to reach agreement with its eight municipalities on funding stormwater projects and the County’s ongoing efforts to resolve threatened State legal action against the County based on its approach to 2012 legislation that required the County to adopt a stormwater utility fee.  The article states that County and municipal representatives recently met and discussed a possible short-term coordinated plan to meet their projected stormwater costs under new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits requirements.

The municipal officials met with county leaders Tuesday at the county government offices to discuss a coordinated plan for moving forward with negotiations with the state over the mandated stormwater projects. Leaders from both sides generally agreed that some sort of funding source from the county should be provided to municipalities to help pay for the projects.

 The municipalities will have to pay a projected $16.5 million from Fiscal Year 2013 to Fiscal Year 2018 for costs associated with their upcoming [NPDES MS4] Phase II permit, according to New Windsor Town Manager Frank Schaeffer….
The article notes that Carroll County has elected not to implement the required stormwater fee under the 2012 legislation and instead identify other funds to meet its stormwater costs, including earmarking $20 million for stormwater projects.  As previously reported on Conduit Street, the State has threatened the County with daily fines of up to $10,000 per day because the County has not enacted a fee.  The 2012 legislation did not apply to municipalities, except for Baltimore City.  From the Times article:

Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, said at the meeting that the county needed to ensure municipalities could pay for their stormwater projects to bolster the county’s argument that a fee was not necessary. At the commissioners meeting earlier Tuesday, Howard discussed with his colleagues the idea for drafting a state law that would exclude jurisdictions that can pay for stormwater projects with existing funds from implementing a fee.

Howard also is proposing adding funding to the county’s Town Environmental Fund Program, which municipal leaders could apply to for matching funds to help pay for stormwater projects. Howard’s plan would increase the fund to $500,000 with funding from county reserves. It would also seek out ways to add $1 million to the fund for Fiscal Year 2015 and Fiscal Year 2016, as the county works out a long-term strategy to negotiate rain tax with the state.  …

Sykesville Mayor Ian Shaw said he was glad the county was looking into some funding sources that could help his town, and that officials would be working in coordination on projects.

“I got a good feeling that we are going to be working together on this,” he said.