The Maryland stormwater fee known as the "rain tax" seems to be a retroactive levy that should be unconstitutional. Penalizing property owners for existing conditions over which they may have had no control is unreasonable.

It's a good idea to encourage more permeable surfaces in the Chesapeake Bay region. The "rain tax" is the politician's approach — easy to invoke, raises money, does little to encourage good practice.

That approach is also arbitrary and capricious. After all, who has more impervious surfaces than the cities of Annapolis or Baltimore? It would make more sense to start with sidewalks and parking lots there before laying the burden on private property owners.

A better idea would be to provide design ideas on how to make surfaces more permeable for both new and existing surfaces and to encourage good practice with tax breaks and subsidies.

Under the "rain tax" law there are differing assessments for properties of different types. Oddly, the tax for a private home is less than that for a condominium. What is odd is that a "condominium" is not really a type of structure, it is a form of ownership. Yet the tax itself is based on the type of structures on the property.

A more proper measure would be the ratio of impervious area (buildings, paved areas, etc.) to the total area of the property. On that basis, property owned by the government would be the most egregious offenders.

Warren Updike, Towson