www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/harford/abingdon/ph-ag-stormwater-task-force-1120-20131119,0,5766639.story

baltimoresun.com

Harford's task force on 'rain tax' plans to wrap up its findings

BY BRYNA ZUMER, bzumer@theaegis.com

3:57 PM EST, November 19, 2013

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A task force established by the Harford County Council to study the state-required storm water management fee, or "rain tax," is getting close to submitting its opinion.

"We are in the process of completing the final version of our report," John Gessner, who has been leading the task force, said Tuesday. "I hope we will be able to report back to the County Council very soon."

The council recently introduced a bill to repeal the original storm water legislation, which had been enacted because state law requires affected jurisdictions to levy some type of fee to pay for storm water remediation.

Harford County Executive David Craig has made the repeal of the "rain tax" a key part of his campaign for governor.

Gessner said Tuesday he asked members of the task force to submit their opinions on the final draft, but would not go into details of what the task force has discussed or what the draft said.

He said the group has focused on collecting data from other jurisdictions and seeing how the storm water fee has been implemented.

"We are looking for quantitative information," he said.

Gessner also said the task force has completely ignored the political storm raging around the "rain tax" issue.

"Those were concerns and we are aware of them," he said about the county administration's push to repeal the county version of the law.

Gessner said he thinks the report should acknowledge that the task force stayed dispassionate about the controversy.

"We don't care. That did not affect us one bit," he said.

The group has been focused on its charge of how to implement the existing state legislation.

"It has been really challenging," Gessner noted, adding the group might not have a unanimous opinion and he would be fine with multiple opinions being submitted.

"I cannot speak with any real certainty whether it will be one report or two, whether we will be able to submit it without having another meeting. I just don't know," he said.