Stormwater Fee Poll Finds Voter Misunderstanding Key Impediment to Support

On March 13, OpinionWorks LLC released the results of a poll requested by the Clean Water Healthy Families Coalition that looked at voter attitudes about the 2012 legislation mandating 10 counties adopt a stormwater remediation fee (also known as the “rain tax” by the fee’s opponents).  Here are the major poll findings from the results:

This statewide poll identifies an overwhelming lack of public understanding of the stormwater remediation fee, which some have called the “rain tax.” The poll finds that inaccurate understandings of the fee have greatly elevated opposition. But when facts are presented, a plurality of 46% support the fee, and opposition drops to only about one-third (35%) of voters.

These are the major poll findings:

  • An overwhelming majority of voters (84%) believe the problem of water pollution can be fixed, but only 39% believe their local jurisdiction has the resources it needs to tackle water pollution locally.
  • A 50% majority of voters would support a reasonable local fee dedicated to the problem of water pollution, including a number of people who think other local taxes are too high.
  • Three-quarters of voters (75%) could not even guess how much they expect their local stormwater fee or “rain tax” to be. Of those who did offer a guess, most guessed too high.
  • Only 24% of voters think the term “rain tax” is the more accurate term for this fee.
  • Fifty percent of Maryland’s voters incorrectly think people will be taxed when it rains. Many voters are not sure, leaving only 29% who know they will not be taxed when it rains.
  • Initially, just based on what they have read or heard, 40% said they oppose this tax, 23% said they support it, and 26% had no feelings either way. The rest were unsure.
  • But those who believe “rain tax” is the more accurate term oppose it by 67% to 11%. Meanwhile, those who felt that “stormwater fee” was the more accurate name support it by 40% to 21%.
  • The major finding of this poll is the impact of information: With some facts, opposition to this fee fell to only one-third (35%) of voters, support doubled to 46%, and 11% said they had no feelings about it either way.
  • If voters believe this fee will be effective at reducing pollution, support rises even higher.

The poll questioned 594 people from the period of February 26 to March 15, 2015.