www.baltimoresun.com/explore/harford/opinion-talk/ph-ag-edit-rain-tax-0510-20130509,0,5566833.story

baltimoresun.com

Time to stop arguing and clean it up [editorial]

Editorial from The Aegis

5:18 PM EDT, May 9, 2013

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The unpleasant stuff has all flowed downhill from the federal, to the state, to the county. A stormwater management fee, or rain tax, if you prefer, has been signed into law by Harford County Executive David R. Craig. There has been plenty of opportunity for complaining about passing the buck, failing to protect the Chesapeake Bay and blaming the other political party.

Now for the reality: Harford County has taken a reasonable approach in its move to collect $12.50 a year from the owner of each residential property and study the issue to see if that's enough to deal with treating filth-laden stormwater runoff before it gets to the bay. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't, but it's not a ridiculous amount considering it will bring in a lot of money for water quality improvement programs that aren't funded.

The original plan to charge $400 a year per property was ridiculous, and the $125-a-year fee probably is too, because, after all, this amount of money is being collected each year, and a fair number of stormwater management ponds can be built or upgraded every year with what's anticipated to come in even from the $12.50 a year fee.

And make no mistake about it, while levying the fee was heavy handed, the problem it's meant to address is serious and needs to be addressed.

Now that a reasonable starting point has been enacted, at least from a financial standpoint, it's time to figure out exactly what needs to be done to improve water quality and go from there, without further name-calling, complaining or grandstanding.