2:25 PM EDT, June 19, 2013
I read with interest the letter in the June 6 Times advocating for a fair stormwater fee structure. I agree, however, from a totally different perspective. The fee structure that was proposed by the county executive and adopted by the County Council is very unfair and serves to penalize property owners for doing the right thing. Many of the properties in my area have seen fee estimates that are 7-15 percent or more of their total property tax and have estimated fees in the $400-$700 range.
This perversity occurs mostly because properties are being assessed a fee that includes their driveway area and does not consider other beneficial characteristics of the property. As an example, my property is being assessed a high fee because the county is counting the driveway area and does not consider that this 9,000 square feet of "impervious" driveway area in sitting on 440,000 square feet of other "pervious" area (the good stuff they want us to have); yet, I am being penalized. With such a large portion of "pervious" area, we are 100 percent certain that none of the water runoff from my property is going anywhere and is being 100 percent absorbed by my own property (in environmental speak, we are our own filter), yet the fee penalty exists. This fee structure seems to violate the statutory intent of the law that created the fee which states: "The stormwater remediation fee must be based on the share of stormwater management services related to the property and provided by the county or municipality
Separately, based on our analysis, there are indications that the file upon which these fees will be/are based includes some gross errors. Yet, bills are being sent to unknowing property owners who may not know what to appeal because they are new to their area or do not have the needed information (e.g., site plats, etc.). So, the county cannot rely on the appeals process to correct the inequities it has created.
Hopefully, the county will come to its senses, understand that it has not created a fair and equitable system, and the fee and structure and estimating processes will be revisited, amended and restructured.
T.Giovanis & Co.
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