Committee proposes user fee to pay for water programs


The Carroll County Stormwater Management Ad-hoc Committee suggested last week that the county commissioners create a user fee to pay for federal- and state-required water-quality and storm water management programs.

Committee members said that other alternatives, such as raising DTC taxes or selling capital improvement bonds, do not keep residents informed about how much the county is spending for those programs.

"Each consumer's bill will reflect the environmental mandates of the future," said committee member Richard Berich. "When it gets too painful, the consumer will be able to react [to the federal government]. You can't be an informed consumer if you don't know how much it costs for what you're buying."

Mr. Berich said that the fee could be a line on individual tax bills showing what that person pays in taxes to keep county systems in line with state and federal mandates. Committee members had no suggestions as to how the fee would be calculated.

The committee, which has been preparing a plan for maintaining the county's storm water management facilities since October 1991, said that county officials should teach residents how to help keep county water sources clean.

Storm water management facilities include ponds and fields to collect and retain runoff, reducing soil erosion and flooding while separating out pollutants. The cleansed water may be collected for use or allowed to return to ground water or streams that carry it to reservoirs.

Committee members said that if residents help keep runoff water clean, the county will be able to spend less for water quality programs.

"Twenty years ago, storm water management first came about," said committee member Randy Bechtel. "Then, 10 to 15 years later, laws were passed, and water quality became just as important as storm water management."

Mr. Bechtel said that developers, engineers, elected officials and the public could be informed about maintaining water quality through seminars, the media and school curriculums.

"The general public is paying the bill, so they should be the best informed of anyone out there," he said.

The committee's nine-page report said the commissioners should provide input for state and federal water quality legislation that would affect Carroll County.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy said the report may be used to develop policy on storm water management and water quality. Commissioner Julia W. Gouge was not present at the meeting.

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