State Accepts Carroll County Proposal on Stormwater Fee

A March 3 Carroll County Times article reported the State has accepted a proposal by Carroll County to resolve concerns about its approach to 2012 legislation requiring it adopt a stormwater remediation fee.  As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Office of the Attorney General had warned the county that it faced civil penalties of up to $10,000 a day unless it adopted the stormwater fee as mandated by the 2012 legislation.  Instead of adopting a fee, the County had created the required stormwater program fund and then identified other sources to fund the program.  From the Times article:

Under the proposal outlined in a letter from Carroll County Attorney Timothy Burke to state officials last week, there would be no additional fees or tax rate increases for residents to pay for a stormwater management fund, as called for in a 2012 state law commonly derided by critics as the “rain tax.” Instead, the county would designate for the fund a portion of the revenues collected under the current tax rate each year based on the operational costs of the county’s stormwater management program.

For instance, in Fiscal Year 2015, the county will likely use about 5 cents per $100 of the assessed value of Carroll County properties from the current tax rate – set at $1.018 per $100 of the assessed of Carroll County properties — to put into the fund, said Phil Hager, director of the county’s Department of Land Use, Planning and Development. This will pay for the more than $900,000 in operational costs he expects for the stormwater program for the next fiscal year.  …

In a response to the county’s letter obtained by the Times, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office said the fund as proposed would meet the requirements under the law. The response noted that officials with the office could not comment on other aspects of the county’s compliance with stormwater regulations, however, since the county’s letter only dealt with the fee requirement.

The response notes that the Maryland Department of the Environment also accepts the proposal.

The article explained that the potential agreement could resolve the ongoing dispute between the County and the State over the County’s compliance with the stormwater fee legislation.  The County Commissioners will need to adopt the proposed changes to the County’s property tax rate ordinance.