Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
News Opinion Readers Respond

Clean water at heart of controversial fee

The bills are in the mail, and Marylanders in the urban and near-urban counties are beginning a costly and long-term investment in clean water. Or not ("Balto. Co. companies question new fee," July 11).

A short year ago, the stormwater fee requirement was enacted by the General Assembly and signed into law with an effective date of July 1, 2013. The state regulators anticipated that the timeline would give the local jurisdictions the opportunity to develop fee schedules to meet their individualized needs. That strategy may have backfired.

Initially, the state's fee requirement was either under the radar, or perhaps even viewed as a consensus item. But as the local jurisdictions took up their assigned rate-setting tasks, the fee requirement morphed into another in a series of divisive measures loosely identified by some as unwanted state intrusion into local land use and development policy. The debate has been intensive, but not very enlightening. In particular, the "tax versus fee" discussion has done little to advance the laudable, and presumably shared, goal of clean water.

A year later, the public is confronted with a bewildering patchwork of fees among the jurisdictions that have acted. By way of example, Carroll County is looking to other sources of funding; Frederick County is billing a penny per household; Anne Arundel County revised its proposed fee after a veto by a newly-appointed county executive; and Howard County may be altering its fee even before it is implemented. And the jurisdictions have equally diverse calculation and credit methodologies.

So it should come as no surprise that some folks want the General Assembly to revisit the fee requirement in the next session. Whatever happens, clean water will still be an important public health need and the associated costs will still be astronomical.

Steve LeGendre, Reisterstown

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Churches should not have to pay stormwater fees [Letter]
    Churches should not have to pay stormwater fees [Letter]

    In response to your paper's recent article about churches paying stormwater fees, I would point out that churches provide heavily discounted space for community groups and that many house affordable kindergarten and nursery school programs and provide food and shelter for at-risk populations...

  • Rain tax: Noble goal, unfair execution
    Rain tax: Noble goal, unfair execution

    Kim Coble of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation laments that Maryland county officials are considering rolling back their stormwater remediation fees. ("'Rain tax¿ is rolling back," Jan. 26.) In 2012 the Maryland General Assembly passed HB 987 requiring nine Maryland counties and Baltimore...

  • Stop the smoke and mirrors of the 'rain tax' debate
    Stop the smoke and mirrors of the 'rain tax' debate

    The article by Pamela Wood on "rolling back the rain tax" ("Counties reconsider stormwater fees," Jan. 25) only adds to my confusion about how the whole state of Maryland continues to be in an uproar over the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act mandating reductions in nitrogen,...

  • Mr. Hogan's run-off trap
    Mr. Hogan's run-off trap

    Here's something all Marylanders can agree on: It sure would be stupid to tax the rain. Fortunately, the state doesn't do it and never has, despite what one may hear from Gov. Larry Hogan whose recent "truth to power" State of the State address would have been a lot more effective if he'd stuck...

  • Hating taxes, loving the Chesapeake Bay
    Hating taxes, loving the Chesapeake Bay

    Marylander's agree on two things: We love the Chesapeake Bay and we hate taxes.

  • Protecting the bay is a shared responsibility
    Protecting the bay is a shared responsibility

    I don't claim to know the details of Maryland's so-called "rain tax," but I do believe that improving the Chesapeake Bay is a responsibility all of us share ("Senators hear bid to repeal law requiring stormwater fees," March 3).

  • Hogan's 'rain tax' straw man
    Hogan's 'rain tax' straw man

    Webster's defines a "straw man" as "an argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated." We can find no better example than Gov. Larry Hogan's crusade against what he calls Maryland's "rain tax," which led this week to his introduction of legislation to repeal a law that he...

  • The rub of the 'rain tax'
    The rub of the 'rain tax'

    Like many other politically interested individuals, I've been wondering for quite a while if the "rain tax" really is the "Obamacare" of Maryland environmental politics. Does the savvy politico who coined the term deserve the credit/blame for single-handedly turning a fee that only 10...

Comments
Loading