County Executive Craig Issues Statement Regarding Harford’s Compliance with State-Mandated Rain Tax
From Harford County government:
Harford County Executive David R. Craig has issued the following statement regarding the county’s compliance with the state-mandated collection of a stormwater remediation fee, a measure that the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed into law last year:
Recently I received Harford County Bill 13-12 on my desk, approved by the County Council after having been introduced at the request of my administration. This is the county legislation for a stormwater fee, also rightly referred to as the Rain Tax, which is required based on a law that the Maryland General Assembly passed back in April of 2012. The state law requires Harford and nine other jurisdictions in the state to levy fees on developed land by this coming July 1, and to use the funds raised on stormwater management projects.
The legislation that was passed here in Harford County pursuant to this state law places a fee of $12.50 per residential tax account for next year, and a fee of 70 cents for every 500 square feet of impervious area for commercial properties. Farms and nonprofits will only pay the residential rate, and properties within a municipality are not subject to the fees. It will be possible to get up to a 100% credit for doing remediation on one’s property.
These amounts for next year represent 10% of the fees that were calculated as being necessary for complying with federal and state stormwater requirements.
The County Council also created a task force that will study how the fee is collected and the funds spent, and will recommend a course of action for the years to come. I commend and thank the County Council for working with my administration on this difficult issue, and I fully support their task force to further study this heavy-handed state mandate.
For Harford County, it is estimated that we will have to spend a minimum of $10 million per year beyond what we already do in order to work toward meeting our federal and state guidelines for managing urban runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. There is no easy or painless way to raise such a large amount of additional money, and as a result, the effects of these fees on taxpayers would be severe.
As I said last year in a newspaper op-ed, before most people even knew that the state had passed this law, stormwater and urban runoff from Maryland are the source of only around 5 percent of the sediment and 2 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into the Bay. Are the benefits to the Bay worth the strain that the implementation of these improvements will cause for our working families and the young adults trying to buy their first homes? (The Gazette, “When enough is enough,” Sept. 21, 2012)
While we all share a desire for a clean, healthy, and vibrant Bay, this desire must be tempered by a consideration of what we can afford when Marylanders face high unemployment, lower incomes, and tighter household budgets.
Clearly something is amiss here. And as long as we have leaders in Washington and Annapolis who have no concept of the financial decisions that individuals, families, and businesses have to make on a daily basis, things are sadly not going to improve.
Well said Mr. Craig, now what can be done about it?
It’s easy. All we need is a different president (who will change the direction of the EPA), a different governor (who will change the direction of MDE), and a less liberal state legislature (who won’t pass laws like the one requiring counties to collect a rain tax).
I commend county officials for easing the implementation of this, but I just hope that the state doesn’t come down hard on us. They probably don’t have the stones to fine us, but hopefully they won’t slow down development approvals or outright deny permits for things like road access.
Larry Smith says
Maryland’s Phase II “Watershed Implementation Plan: $14.4 billion cost of Nitrogen Reductions thru 2025:
• Agriculture (-23.7%): $0.928 billion to reduce inflows 66.22 million lbs
— Average cost = $14 per pound N
• Wastewater Treatment Plants (-26.4%): $2.37 billion to reduce inflows by 148.1M lbs
— Average cost = $16 per pound N
• Septic Systems (-38.2%): $3.7 billion to reduce inflows by 16.1M lbs
— Average cost = $231 per pound N (!)
• Stormwater (-20.3%): $7.39 billion to reduce inflows by 27.02M lbs
— Average cost = $273 per pound N (!!)
Conclusion: It’s about 17 times cheaper to address agricultural and WWTP N pollution than septic tank and stormwater N pollution.
Solution: Spending 1/17th as much money paying farmers ALL OVER THE WATERSHED to plant cover crops and forest buffers…
Jim in hickory says
No surprise ag is the second biggest bay polluter and they get a pass on the tax. It’s gonna rain next week so I’m expecting the spring manure spread by the dairy farms. Anyone wonder why they always spread it just before a good rain storm? It has nothing to do with it getting into the dirt but a great way of getting rid of toxic waste directly into the bay.
Larry Smith says
Maryland’s approach is nonsensical: It’s like trying to make a car with a leaky fuel line 25% more fuel efficient by replacing 25% of the fuel line’s seals and hoses, and then purchasing an engine that’s 25% more efficient, and refitting the car’s frame with materials that are 25% lighter. Really?
Dr. Unruh says
The Democrat/Socialist/Communist Party that rules Maryland is why I moved to Florida. After retiring, I couldn’t afford to live there. The sad thing is that my family on my mother’s side has lived in Havre de Grace prior to the War of 1812.
Arturro Nasney says
No one can afford to retire in Maryland! It’s a great place to earn a living but the consequences are far too great for a retiree. The truly sad thing is that having lived here for generations means nothing to those who impose these taxes. Seniority is only valued by Burbey’s people.
Maryland just tied for 7th in a recent news article identifying the 10 worst states within which to live once retired.
Typical Harford County responses: If it affects your pocket personally you’re against it, if it affects other people’s pockets you’re for it.
The rain tax is another feel good tax that won’t accomplish much if anything. What about all of the other states whose pollution flows into the bay? Are they going to tax the rain too? And what does ” properties within a municipality are not subject to the fees” mean? Please folks, lets vote out all the people that vote for these useless laws ( Windmills 30 miles out in the ocean, disarming law abiding citizens, free cell phones for the poor, free everything for illegals, etc,etc.
LOL WTF? says
I’m confused by some of the “thumbs down” people are getting here? How could you, a Harford county resident, be “for a rain tax”? That means, you owe more money once the bill comes in. How can ANYONE be for that?
Jack Rabbit says
Save the tax money the bay is a cesspool that will never be cleaned up. Every summer AA county issues warnings that if you get the bay water on your skin immediately flush the area with clean water, Think about that for a minute…. There are all kinds of nasty chemicals that leech into the water every day from Aberdeen, beth steel, chicken farmers and 10’s of thousands of boaters all peeing in the water.
Those crabs you are eating that they told you came from the Wye river actually came from under the key bridge and that unique flavor will kill you. If you don’t like crabs you can always count on sore ridden diseased rockfish.. Eating food from water you are warned not to touch…. It’s a Maryland thing hon..
The bay is done fill it in pave it over and build houses.
So is the State of Maryland making the states of New York and Pennsylvania pay a tax also;since they pollute the Susqehanna River which flow to the bay.What about Virginia?
John P. Mallamo says
Actually, the effort by New York and Pennsylvainia is voluntary.
Virginia sued the EPA and won, so their effort may not be as great.
The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is currently suing EPA.
Other jurisdictions have also successfully litigated against EPA, thereby reducing their effort.
Interestingly, some of the court decisions have commented that EPA exceeded its authority by regulating rain.
Seems that only Maryland is following a somewhat foolish mandate.
John P. Mallamo
Say what? says
I honestly support quite a bit of what this Governor does, but this is just too much. Craig and his fellow executives must put a stop to this nonsense. MD is but one piece of the Bay watershed.
Fed up says
Anyone remember the original $30, then $35 now something like $45/yr “Bay Impact Fee” we’re paying? Can any of the geniuses in Annapolis account for the millions extorted from us under the guise of “cleaning up the Bay?” And now they’re looking for more money – how ’bout they start by giving us a clear account of all that good they did with the other money first! I completely understand the claims about the cost to live in MD, but I’m not waiting for retirement to send out change of address cards. There’s no change in sight here and the pastures are definitely greener elsewhere!
Pay the $12.50.
Save the Bay
Maybe we should dam the Susquhanna a quarter mile inside our state’s boarders, and keep the sluice gates closed until PA does something about their contribution to the nitrogen levels.
I wonder how much taxpayer money will be used to create the County Council’s task force, learn how the fee is collected and the funds spent, and recommend a course of action for the years to come.
Jim in hickory says
Once again the government finding ways to spend our money to make itself bigger, way to go county council!!!!
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Perhaps David Craig should close the office of sustainability and use the savings to cover some of the Ransom money Annapolis is demanding.
Harford County has been invited to Join the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, an organization that is going toe-to-toe with the EPA and other agencies to relieve taxpayers of the unreasonable burden of scientifically unsound and politically driven environmental policy. To date we have not taken them up on the offer. The CCC pursues environmental stewardship the way it ought to be done. Check out their website http://www.cleanchesapeakecoalition.com.
Let’s be realistic. This is nothing more than the creation of another fund that the state will raid at will. Just like the transportation fund, the rainy day fund, etc. Anyone that thinks that this money will go towards the Bay needs their head examined.
The Clean Chesapeake Coalition is actively fighting these mandates. Check them out and don’t let their name confuse you.
Liberty Lover says
I know that Mr. Craig has been solidly against this tax since its introduction – I’d love to see him publically reach out to other counties in fighting against it.
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