Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 28, 2013

‘Rain tax’ may see changes

Fees established on parking lots, driveways, roofs

ANNAPOLIS —   The “rain tax,” as opponents have dubbed the stormwater runoff fees set to kick in July 1, is likely to be modified, key legislative leaders told a business group Thursday. The fees could amount to hundreds of dollars for residents of some counties and thousands more for businesses and even churches.

“As you see this thing played out, the legislature will do something,” Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chairman Ed Kasemeyer told a Howard County Chamber of Commerce breakfast. It’s unclear when that might happen, since the General Assembly is not scheduled to meet again until January, and tax bills will hit mailboxes in July.

“I think it’s not over yet,” said Kasemeyer, who had sought to delay implementation of the fees for two years, amending a bill exempting nonprofit groups and churches from the charges. The Senate approved the amendment on the last day of the General Assembly April 8, but a House committee let the bill die.

“I don’t think it’s over with yet,” said Sen. Jim Robey, D-Howard and a subcommittee chair on the tax-writing committee. “We have to go back and make this tax better.” Delegate Frank Turner, another Howard County Democrat who is vice-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, agreed, using the same words as Robey. “I don’t think it’s over yet.”

Last year in its final hours, the legislature passed a bill mandating that nine counties and Baltimore City establish fees on impervious surfaces such as parking lots, driveways and roofs, with the money going toward cleaning up stormwater runoff to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

“I think the legislature didn’t do an adequate job setting guidelines” on how the fees were to be applied, Kasemeyer said. Counties have taken different approaches implementing the fees, with low fees in some counties such as Frederick.

Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman an-nounced Thursday she was vetoing the measure passed by the County Council. She told The Capital newspaper that residents were unaware a new tax was coming along.

As one extreme example, Robey noted that the huge car import facilities on the south side of the Port of Baltimore are facing fees of $400,000 per year.

Other delegates have been approached by pastors complaining of the fee. Delegate Warren Miller, R-Howard, said one Clarksville church believes it will have to pay $30,000. And Delegate Steve DeBoy D-Baltimore-Howard, said a priest at St. Augustine Church in Elkridge told him, “This tax is really going to hurt us.”

Environmental groups supported the fees as a way to comply with bay cleanup mandates from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The groups were so strongly in favor of the runoff fees that even though they wanted to exempt nonprofit groups, they successfully fought to kill that bill once Kasemeyer’s delaying amendment was approved.

There was intense debate over the fees last year, but it was only this year that opponents began calling it the “rain tax,” a catchier political slogan.

“I hope it will go the same way as the computer services tax,” said Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard-Carroll. That tax was passed in the final hours of a 2007 special session, but was repealed a few months later when its impact on information technology industry be-come clear.

Text Only
Local News
  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fourmile Ridge wind project approved, moves forward

    The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the Fourmile Ridge wind project in eastern Garrett County and site preparation started April 7, according to Frank Maisano, a wind industry spokesman. The current notice listed on the FAA website for the project is for a small change in turbine location.

    April 17, 2014

  • Oakland back to normal after toppled tanker closes business district

    The town of Oakland returned to normal activities Thursday, one day after a tanker full of liquid propane overturned in the heart of the business district.
    Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday the toppled tanker was removed and its 10,000-gallon load transferred to another tanker.

    April 17, 2014

  • Students back Southern Middle School renovation

    Students from both Southern and Northern middle schools presented a list of reasons why Southern Middle needs to be renovated during the Garrett County Commission meeting Tuesday.

    April 17, 2014

  • Trial run Trial run

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 72nd anniversary of Doolittle Raid on Tokyo 72nd anniversary of Doolittle Raid on Tokyo

    Friday, April 18, has another special meaning for me besides Good Friday.
    April 18, 1942, proved to be a pivotal day for American morale, following the deadly air attack and destruction conceived and executed by Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lara Courrier seeks re-appointment to Mineral school board

    I, Lara Courrier, am seeking re-election to the Mineral County Board of Education to continue the work I’ve done the last four years. Having served as a school counselor at the Burlington Center School and the Chick Buckbee Juvenile Center for nearly six years, as well as approximately 20 years total working with children, I have insight into the needs of kids and the importance of the actions of the school board. Having three sons and several nieces and nephews in Mineral County schools, I have an added incentive to continue to work hard to ensure the efficient running of our school system. 

    April 17, 2014

Must Read
News related video