Howard County Executive Proposes Phasing Out County Stormwater Fee

A November 24, 2015, Baltimore Sun article reported that Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman will introduce legislation that would phase out the county’s stormwater remediation fee (also called the “rain tax” by critics) over a two-year period. The article noted that he would partner with County Councilman Greg Fox on the bill.   The article also noted Kittleman’s prior opposition to the 2013 State legislation which required 10 counties to adopt a stormwater fee while he was a State Senator. From the article:

I felt then, as I still do now, that creating another tax or fee was unnecessary, excessive and a burden on working families and small businesses, and it was obvious that many residents of Maryland felt the same way,” Kittleman said of his opposition to the fee while in the state Senate. He said he decided to wait a year before making a decision on the fee as county executive based on advice from the county’s Spending Affordability Committee.

Kittleman’s bill, co-sponsored by Fox, a Fulton Republican, would cut the stormwater fee in half next year and eliminate it entirely in 2017.

The article cited that the fee generates about $10 million annually for the county and that repealing the fee does not eliminate the County’s stormwater mitigation requirements under its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.

“I don’t want anyone to take this legislation as any less of a commitment by Howard County to making sure that we meet our requirements to do what we can to preserve and protect our Chesapeake Bay,” [Kittleman] said. “What’s in dispute is how we fund it.”

Stormwater improvement projects would be paid for out of the county’s general fund under Kittleman’s plan. Money from the dedicated stormwater fund could be leveraged to pay for general obligation bonds that fund stormwater remediation capital projects, he said.

The article also noted Councilman Calvin Ball’s preliminary response to the proposed legislation:

“I remain committed to working with everyone who is dedicated to investing in our environmental sustainability,” Ball said. “While it is unfortunate that the county executive has not shared any of these details with me, I look forward to hearing more about how we’re going to fund the fee and ensure that we address stormwater runoff [and] how we’re going to continue to work towards saving the Chesapeake Bay.”