Bay Overview Addresses Stormwater Fees, Accounting for Growth

The Department of Legislative Services has released a consolidated budget analysis tying together several different agencies and programs connected to environmental and land use policies.  The Chesapeake Bay FY 2015 Overview, presented as an operating budget analysis to the Appropriations Committee today, reviews funding and policy issues both in the budget and elsewhere in law.

See the full budget analysis online.

The set of “Issues” presented as recommendations offers a capsule of the matters presented:

Issues 

Overall Chesapeake Bay Restoration Funding: 

Major changes in Chesapeake Bay restoration funding include increased Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund funding, contingent reductions for land and conservation easement programs, and transit funding increases in the Maryland Department of Transportation. The Department of Legislative Services (DLS) recommends the addition of budget bill language to request that the Administration continue to publish the overall Chesapeake Bay restoration data and two-year milestones funding in the Governor’s budget books.

Local Stormwater Fees and Financing
:
Nine of the 10 jurisdictions have enacted fees that will help them to meet their stormwater remediation goals, although additional financing options, such as the idea of “trading in time” and public-private partnerships, may be needed. DLS recommends that the BayStat agencies comment on the role of “trading in time”, public-private partnerships, and any other financial tools available to reduce Chesapeake Bay restoration stormwater costs. In addition, DLS recommends that the BayStat agencies comment on the cost-effectiveness of agricultural versus stormwater retrofit best management practices. Finally, DLS recommends that the BayStat agencies comment on whether best management practice costs are decreasing over time–an indication that the market for environmental restoration financing is maturing.

Accounting for Growth
:
Achieving and maintaining these pollution reductions will be a significant challenge, as Maryland’s population of more than 5.7 million people is expected to grow by at least 15% over the next 25 years. Two of Maryland’s main efforts to address the reporting of future population growth are implementation of the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act (Chapter 149 of 2012) and creation of a new policy for offsetting pollution from development and redevelopment projects. DLS recommends that the BayStat agencies comment on the Administration’s plan for fully implementing the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act, including enforcement mechanisms, and the next steps in Accounting for Growth regulation development.

The House Appropriations Committee hearing on the subject is available online (streaming video and audio) on the General Assembly website, dated January 23, 2014.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties
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