Baltimore City

City council committee OKs 16 percent cut in storm water fees

A City Council committee on Tuesday approved a 16 percent cut to Baltimore's proposed storm water fees.

Under a plan that will go to the full council for a vote Monday, homeowners would pay $40 to $120 per year. That's down from a range of $48 to $144.


The legislative committee, chaired by Councilman James Kraft, also approved a cap designed to help businesses avoid what some have called exorbitant fees. The measure would limit fees to 20 percent of property taxes.

The committee also approved an 83 percent cut to the administration's proposed rates for religious institutions. They would pay only $12 per unit of impervious surface per year — much less than any other city property owners.


The state-mandated fees — sometimes derided as a "rain tax" — are designed to pay for storm water treatment, wetland restoration and other projects aimed at improving Chesapeake Bay water quality.

But the city's fees, which are the highest in the state, have drawn complaints from businesses and nonprofit organizations who estimate that, in some cases, their charges could be tens of thousands of dollars.

Under the amendments approved by the committee Tuesday, Baltimore would take in about $24 million from the fees — down from an anticipated $30 million.

The cuts would mean that, among other things, the Department of Public Works would be able to hire about 40 fewer people, issue fewer grants to nonprofits, need to cut incentive and education programs and take out a $3 million loan, public works officials said.