Among the widely-hyped topics of the 2015 General Assembly session was the so-called “rain tax repeal,” nominally waiving state requirements that ten affected counties impose dedicated fees to target stormwater pollution problems.
The Sun writes of the expected follow-through for the year ahead by the affected counties – who all still bear massive responsibilities under federal stormwater permits, and who mostly will continue to levy fees dedicated to tackle these challenging requirements.
While the General Assembly agreed to lift the demand that Baltimore and the nine largest counties charge the fees, state law still requires them to come up with the money for projects to safeguard and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Baltimore County cut its fees by a third. Two attempts to eliminate them in Anne Arundel County fell short. Howard County is waiting at least a year to make changes. And there’s been no move to make any changes in Baltimore City.
Carroll County instituted a $0 fee before the election. Officials there agreed to dedicate a portion of the county’s property tax revenue to stormwater cleanup projects.
Republicans who chafed at being told how to pay for stormwater projects can still claim a victory on principle. Baltimore and the counties still are required to restore streams, plant trees and do other work to fight the runoff of pollution to the bay. But now they can decide for themselves how to pay for it.
Read MACo’s detailed coverage of the final bill: What’s In the Stormwater Fee Bill?