"Maryland's economy relies on the health of the Bay," Barnes said. "Cleaning up the Bay can only be good for the economy, so I don't think this will have an adverse effect on the local economy."

Offset fees

Ortiz also pointed out that the legislation they came up with provides ways for residents and business owners to receive credits, rebates and grants to offset the rain tax fees. Additionally, low-income residents who qualify for homeowner tax credits and energy assistance can apply for an exemption.

Property owners who have environmentally friendly features on their land, such as rain gardens, cisterns, rain barrels or green roofs, or remove pavement from their lots entirely, can qualify for reductions in their assessed rain tax fees.

"New developments have strong restrictions, so if they meet our requirements of treating all of the property, you can get a 100 percent credit," Ortiz said. "People and nonprofits can get grant assistance to install these things."

Frederick said they have a sediment pond at the dealership to handle some runoff, but because of the new fees, they are considering other things they can do to offset the tax.

"I've been looking into setting up rainwater barrels to capture the water. I'd use it to water the bushes around here," Frederick said.

If the rain tax legislation is passed, Ortiz said the first phase of the infrastructure improvements, which would begin in the fall, would be upgrading 2,000 acres in the county.

"We'll be focusing on areas like College Park, Greenbelt and Mt. Rainier," he said. "Laurel is an area where we will do some projects, but the main focus in the first phase for retrofitting will be inside the Beltway. … We want to give a facelift to older communities that are asphalt-heavy."

DER officials predict the stormwater infrastructure retrofitting will generate 5,000 jobs in the county during the life of the project, which is expected to be completed by 2025.

DER Deputy Director Larry Kaufman says they are also seeking partnership with private companies to create long-term jobs around the stormwater regulations.

"We're establishing goals the private sector has to achieve and we'll partner with them to use their innovation to drive costs down," Kaufman said. "We've advertised for public-private partnerships and expect that process will be completed by the fall and construction will begin this year."

As for the looming July 1 deadline, most county officials interviewed are not expecting it to be met, nor do DER officials. Ortiz said he realizes they are one of the last counties in the state to come up with a rain tax plan, but said they've learned from what others have done in developing a program for Prince George's residents.

"If we miss the deadline by a little bit, we'll still make it work," Ortiz said.

Kaufman added, "We're not concerned that EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or the state will crack down on us if we miss the deadline by a week or two. We're making a good faith effort and have a plan, so, I don't' think we'll be penalized."