Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Counties eye ‘rain tax’ adjustments

Baltimore County was the first the jurisdiction to announce it planned to revamp its stormwater remediation fees system, but it isn’t the only jurisdiction looking to make adjustments.

The executives in Harford and Anne Arundel counties expressed their intent to look at how the fees are collected and how businesses and residents are charged. Officials in those counties have not created concrete proposals to take those steps yet.

In Harford County, officials are looking at meeting stormwater goals by dedicating existing revenue, and in Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh has voiced support for creating an offset on property taxes that keep the fee intact but cut taxes by a comparable amount.

“I think this conversation is happening in multiple jurisdictions, not exclusively Baltimore County,” said Michael Sanderson, executive director of the Maryland Association of Counties.

The Maryland General Assembly passed the stormwater remediation fee, which requires the state’s 10 largest jurisdictions to pay for a fully funded program to address runoff, so the state could meet standards mandated in a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency.

On Friday, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced his intention to work with the County Council to reduce the rates the county charges for stormwater remediation.

The proposal must be approved by the council. It would reduce the annual maximum paid by a homeowner to $26, down from $39. The fees for commercial properties would still be based on a calculation of impervious surfaces, but the multiplier would drop from $69 to $46 per 2,000 square feet.

“A year ago we made a conscious decision to have a very low fixed fee for residential and to make the commercial property owners pay a fee based upon the amount of their impervious surface because we believe the commercial properties are the ones that are creating the greatest runoff, and the commercial property owners are better able to absorb the expense,” Kamenetz said.

But he said that he hopes commercial property owners will recognize the county is being careful about how it spends their money while at the same time meeting the environmental goals that have been mandated.

According to the county, the measure is expected to receive “significant support” when it’s introduced by council Chair Cathy Bevins. The legislation is expected to be introduced next month, and the council should take up the issue by its first meeting in March.

“I am very supportive of reducing this fee,” Bevins said. “I have been working with the county executive and his staff for months on this, and I am particularly pleased that we are going to reduce the burden on those families who reside in mobile home communities.”