CBF Urges Counties to Maintain Their Stormwater Fees

A February 17 letter to The Dagger from Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost recounted the purpose of the 2012 stormwater remediation fee legislation (also known as the “Rain Tax” by opponents) and urged people not to “demonize” the fee.  Prost also stressed that counties should not reduce or eliminate their fees.  From the letter:

The so-called “rain tax” is easy to demonize. It makes a convenient political target. What’s harder is to help people understand the reason for the fee, and the risk to Baltimore and Harford counties of reducing the fee or getting rid of it altogether.  …

First, some history. The 2012 law requiring ten jurisdictions to establish some level of fee came after years of frustration. Since the early 1990’s, the ten jurisdictions have been required by the federal Clean Water Act to meet specific goals to reduce polluted run-off. The federal law singled out these 10 jurisdictions because polluted run-off is often the biggest source of water pollution to urban and suburban rivers and creeks, and because specific rivers in these localities were badly fouled.  …

But the problem is the nine counties and Baltimore City have not reduced their polluted run-off sufficiently. Most have fallen fall short of goals set by the state, Harford particularly. Money is the issue.  …

Given all this, the Maryland General Assembly decided in 2012 it had to act. It required the 10 jurisdictions to collect a fee that would be dedicated only to reducing runoff. The money couldn’t be hijacked for some other purpose.  …

We urge citizens to tell their state delegates and senators not to repeal the 2012 law, and to tell county leaders to reinstate a reasonable-sized fee to tackle a long-neglected problem.

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