Howard County state senator Allan Kittleman (R-Dist. 9) announced
Monday he will submit a bill asking the General Assembly to repeal the 2012
Watershed Protection and Restoration Act that forces the most populous
counties and Baltimore City to enact stormwater fees.
The bill is often called the “rain tax” by its opponents.
Kittelman said that while he supports efforts to clean up and preserve the Cheapeake Bay, he believes the 2012 bill is “discriminatory, counter-productive, and unfairly taxes the business community for something that should be the responsibility of the entire community.”
He submitted the legislation to be pre-filed for the 2014 session.
The legislation mandates that nine counties, including Howard County, and Baltimore City impose a fee or tax on properties as a way to raise funds to implement local stormwater plans.
In Howard County, residential property owners will pay between $15, $45 or $90 depending on the size of their lot. Non-residential properties will be subject to a fee depending on the amount of impervious surface (parking lots, roofs) on their lots. The fee is calculated using Geographic Information System mapping technology, and businesses and other non-residential properties are charged $15 per 500 square feet of impervious surface.
Stormwater fees will begin to be collected by the county in December. The county estimates about $10.7 million will be brought in under the new legislation in Fiscal Year 2014, according to records obtained by Patch.
About $6 million of the total is expected to come from for-profit property owners, while about $4.9 is expected to come from residential property owners, according to the records.
Kittleman stated that in Howard County “the current approach that was adopted taxes most heavily our non-residential property owners. Local and state governments were excluded from these fees, and residential property owners pay only a small amount of the true cost of stream and wetland restoration.”
Kittleman added that the Office of the Attorney General advised him that local authorities have had the ability to establish their own stormwater fund since 1992.
“Therefore, I believe there is no need for the 2012 legislation,” said Kittleman, in a statement. “In fact, several jurisdictions had implemented a stormwater fee/tax prior to the 2012 legislation.”
“My proposed legislation will not prevent any county or local jurisdiction from keeping or enacting a ‘rain tax,’” stated Kittleman. “Nor will it harm the efforts to clean and restore the Bay. It will allow counties the freedom to decide how best to fund stormwater remediation efforts.”
Clean Water Action, an environmental group that supported the 2012 bill, wrote on its website that seven local jurisdictions—Charles, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties as well as the cites of Annapolis, Frederick, Rockville and Takoma Park—developed their own local plans after the 1992 authorization, but others had not.
The group wrote that the 2012 bill would help create thousands of jobs and bring jurisdictions together to stop pollution and prevent stormwater damage to local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay.
Kittleman is running for Howard County executive against Democratic County Council member Courtney Watson in the 2014 election.