Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Readers Respond

News Opinion Readers Respond

Stormwater fees amount to taxation without representation

I received my commercial property tax bill and cleverly concealed with no explanation was the much anticipated "rain tax" section of the bill. I knew it was going to be ugly, and so it was.

I had already familiarized myself with the details. It was ironic that it showed up just a couple of days before the Fourth of July, the anniversary commemorating the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. I was reminded of the Boston Tea Party, when patriots threw tea into Boston Harbor to protest the king's taxation without representation.

So just where is there any representation for homeowners, commercial property owners and non-profits regarding the onerous rain tax? It is a tax that exists as a result of a lawsuit brought by a relatively small environmental group, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, suing a regulation friendly Environmental Protection Agency to force a very small portion of the population to pay an excessive tax for questionable goals.

Here's the history as I see it.

First, the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 by politicians long gone. Then the Chesapeake Bay Foundation sued EPA and the parties settle out of court agreeing to require Maryland to spend $14.8 billion until the plan is fully implemented in 2025. The public has no say in the matter.

Next, the state decides it isn't responsible for this huge outlay so lawmakers huddle on the last night of the 2013 session and decide to have the 10 largest counties bear the full cost. Of course, it was obvious they needed the votes from the other 14 jurisdictions, so they offered those counties a waiver for their vote.

There was no question that the administration and Democrats in the House and Senate were as pleased as they could be with the rain tax and the myriad of other taxes foisted on the electorate. The went home giddy that night. What a successful session it was. But I digress.

The 10 counties each draw up their own plans of taxation and implementation and levy probably the most oppressive tax burdens I have ever seen in my 62 years — and I follow such things closely. In Baltimore County alone the revenue will amount to over $33 million a year, with a yearly state total of $486 million. All of us will pay either directly or indirectly.

For the record I consider myself an environmental advocate, and I understand we have to address the problem. But why is it not being addressed in the other five states and the 14 other Maryland counties whose rain water flows into the Chesapeake Bay? The pain could have been spread around a lot more fairly.

If this doesn't create a tax revolt among Maryland taxpayers nothing will. I plan to protest the amount I have to pay on my commercial property and I encourage others to do so.

David P. Miller, Phoenix

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • The rain tax is unfair because not all pay it

    The rain tax is unfair because not all pay it

    I'm for the stormwater management fee if it is paid by all ("End 'rain tax' ridicule rap, repeal and replace law," Feb. 28). It is ridiculous to tie it some counties and not all. In the state of current dynamics, just about all contribute to the problems, and just about all will benefit from the...

  • Sun ignores real cost of 'rain tax'

    Sun ignores real cost of 'rain tax'

    As usual, The Sun gets it wrong on the real cost to homeowners of the "rain tax" ("The bogus 'rain tax' repeal," Nov. 24). According to the Sun's editorial board, the tax only costs about $39 a year for the typical Baltimore County homeowner. No big deal, right? Well, how about the residual costs...

  • The bogus 'rain tax' repeal

    The bogus 'rain tax' repeal

    Despite facing a bigger-than-expected budget shortfall, and although he promised a policy blackout until he takes office, Governor-elect Larry Hogan last week publicly reiterated his support for repealing Maryland's "rain tax" while meeting with fellow Republican governors in Florida. He told The...

  • Rain tax still isn't justified

    Rain tax still isn't justified

    Regarding The Sun's editorial on the stormwater management fee ("Carroll talks sense on stormwater," April 3), let's first explain Gov. Larry Hogan's position in my opinion. He proposed to get rid of the "rain tax," the legislature voted that down and proposed their own biased solution as offered...

  • On 'rain tax,' Hogan has the right idea

    On 'rain tax,' Hogan has the right idea

    The Sun really doesn't get it! Larry Hogan is "repealing" the "rain tax" because it is emblematic of the over-taxing of our state's residents ("The bogus 'rain tax' repeal," Nov. 24). You can engage in all the legalistic finger-wagging you care to, but the people of this state are not impressed...

  • 'Rain tax' not optional

    'Rain tax' not optional

    The recent sub-headline on the editorial regarding the "rain tax" was patently false ("The bogus 'rain tax' repeal," Nov. 23).

  • Time to flush the 'rain tax'

    Time to flush the 'rain tax'

    The Baltimore Sun editorial ("Bogus rain tax repeal," Nov. 24) neglects to mention that in passing the House Bill 987 Stormwater Management-Watershed and Restoration Program, the "rain tax" in response to the 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandate aimed at reducing the pollution levels...

  • 'Rain tax' a drop in Md. tax bucket

    'Rain tax' a drop in Md. tax bucket

    I agree that the repeal of the "rain tax" is bogus ("The bogus 'rain tax' repeal," Nov. 24). But it would be interesting if The Sun put a table in the paper with the typical cost to Maryland residents of all the 40 or so new or increased taxes imposed upon us by the nanny Gov. Martin O'Malley.