1:30 PM EDT, September 24, 2013
Mel Mintz's recent letter about Republican Harford County Executive David Craig's shift to the far right in preparation for the 2014 governor's race didn't go far enough ("Craig campaign: From moderate center-right to uninformed extreme," Sept. 20).
The so-called "rain tax" that the Harford County Council came up with, and Mr. Craig apparently approved, requires residential property owners to foot most of the bill through a flat rate, regardless of the amount of runoff.
The council and Mr. Craig claim that the proportion of residential impervious surface in the county is 76 percent, but they fail to explain where that number came from. Does it include apartments? These are commercial properties. What about town homes? Many of these are actually commercial properties. Also, just how many of these properties funnel their runoff into the sewer systems?
The charge for commercial properties is $7 per 500 square feet of impervious area.
If I assume that I have a reasonably "average" home and that all of the rain falling on my roof, patio, short sidewalk and driveway constitute impervious areas — and if I ignore the fact that I direct most of the above runoff into flower beds and my lawn — then I am paying at a rate almost three times that of a commercial property.
Of course, for the first year I only have to pay 10 percent. Why?
Why didn't Harford County pass a 1-cent charge like Frederick County? Or refuse to adopt a fee like Carroll County?
Could it be that by adopting a $125 fee they were trying to alienate residential property owners to the current administration? And by only requiring 10 percent the first year, they come off as the "good guys?" What about next year when Mr. Craig and several council members are running for office? Will the fee be $125 then — just in time for the elections?
Mr. Craig recently announced a proposal to repeal the tax during a visit to a local car and truck dealership. Ever notice how much runoff an operation like that generates? Washing cars, gasoline fumes, oil leaks, to name just a few on five acres of impervious surface. But Mr. Craig thinks that's a burden on businesses. Mr. Craig also alludes to being able to do a better job on bay pollution as governor. I suspect that he plans to go to the bay, raise his arms, and the problem will go away. If not, too bad: he's still governor.
While recent Sun articles have mentioned a number of sources for runoff, they did not quantify the amount of pollution coming down the Susquehanna River from Pennsylvania and points north. Just what is Pennsylvanian doing to save the bay?
As for Mr. Craig, I found it interesting that since he has announced his candidacy for governor only now has he suddenly "pledged to stand by Edgewood and drive the criminal element out, while also identifying causes and solutions to the crime problems."
And after nearly a year of protest about the proposed Walmart on Plumtree Road, when various county departments have said they could not do anything and the County Council failed to take any actions, he has weighed in as having "asked Walmart not to build the new store." Big effort!
And after failing to support the budget of Harford County Public Schools, and months of warnings about the possible consequences, he is now berating HCPS for their actions to live within his budget restrictions.
Yet at the same time he was prominent in the groundbreaking for the new $45 million Emergency Center that is apparently being paid for with local taxpayer dollars. We can afford this building but not education?
David L. Easter, Fallston
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