Baltimore County Council Unanimously Supports Stormwater Fee Repeal

An October 19, 2015, Baltimore Sun article reported that the entire Baltimore County Council has sponsored legislation to repeal the county’s stormwater remediation fee by 2017. The unanimous support also ensures an override of any potential veto by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

The proposed bill sets a reduced FY 2017 stormwater fee rate of $9 to $17 for residences, $9 per  equivalent residential unit (ERU) for institutions, and $31 per ERU for commercial and other non-institutional types of property. An ERU is measured as 2,000 square feet of impervious surface.  Unimproved residential property and agricultural property (other than homes) would pay $0.  The bill would then completely repeal the fee on July 1, 2017.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Kamenetz sponsored successful legislation earlier this year that reduced the county’s fee by one-third.  The current fee rates that were set under that legislation range from $14 to $26 for residences and $46 per ERU for commercial properties.

From the Sun article:

“We all stand united in getting rid of the stormwater remediation fee,” said Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins, a Middle River Democrat, at a news conference in Towson after the council meeting. …

Council members said the fee is a burden on homeowners and businesses. Councilman Todd Crandell, a Dundalk Republican, predicted that eliminating the fee would help spur redevelopment efforts at the former Sparrows Point steel mill. “This takes a huge burden off of that company,” he said.

A representative for Kamenetz warned that a repealing the $16 million per year fee would lead to spending cuts in other programs.

“In eliminating the fee, the council gives the administration two choices: We either institute a significant increase in property taxes or we eliminate $16 million annually in projects,” [Kamenetz spokesman Don Mohler] said.

The executive is unwilling to raise property taxes, so Mohler said some school improvements, park projects and road projects would be in jeopardy. The stormwater projects are required under the multi-state Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort overseen by the federal government.

The article also stated that council members believe the county has enough money to meet all of its needs and they cited a recent billing change to health insurance companies for ambulance rides that is expected to generate $26 million a year.

Under recently passed State legislation (SB 863 of 2015), Baltimore County is no longer required to adopt a stormwater remediation fee but if it does not have a fee, it must adopt an “alternate compliance plan” showing how it will meet its stormwater mitigation requirements.

Proposed Baltimore County Bill 85-15