Harford County Executive David Craig called on the Maryland General Assembly this week to repeal the so-called rain tax in the next legislative session.
Craig, a candidate for Maryland governor, raised red flags about the measure last fall, asking at what point Marylanders will have had enough of tax increases. Answering that question in a morning appearance on "the Sean and Frank Show" on WCBM Monday, Craig said that time is now.
"Stormwater-related costs necessary to comply with EPA mandates are projected to cost county taxpayers a staggering $6.3 billion through 2025," Craig said. "If you wanted to open a business with a parking lot, would you want to come to Maryland and figure out this new tax?"
The law, formally known as the Stormwater Management - Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, allows counties to diverge widely in what to charge businesses and homeowners. For example, Baltimore City charges homeowners $144 for a certain size residential property while Frederick County charges a penny regardless of size. Harford County will charge homeowners $12.50 in the first year of implementation, and it is capped at $125 when fully phased in. Taxes also vary widely for businesses and other organizations in the 10 counties affected under the law.
Craig said Maryland governors need to engage the EPA on mandates like the one on which the state "rain tax" law is premised.
"There is no reason the governor of Maryland should assume a subservient status when it comes to conforming with federal government wishes," Craig said. "Maryland is not leading, we're following, which is a shame because we have more at stake in protecting the Bay than any other state."
In an op-ed article that ran in The Gazette community newspapers in suburban Washington, D.C. last September, Craig said that economic considerations must provide a reality check on the need to protect the Bay in order to achieve balanced approach.
The EPA mandate, however, does not prescribe a tax as the sole method of reducing pollution loads into the Bay, and Maryland has adopted the most pervasive revenue collection regime of any state in the watershed.
"In the rush to comply with the EPA mandate, our elected officials over-compensated and defaulted to raising taxes," Craig said.