The 'rain tax' will do a lot of damage and not as much good as environmentalists claim
July 04, 2013|By Dee Hodges
Dozens of Maryland taxes have been increased during the six years that Martin O'Malley has been governor, but perhaps none better epitomizes the state's propensity to raise taxes for the sake of it than the stormwater management fees — better known as the "rain tax" — that went into effect for residents of the state's 10 largest counties and Baltimore City on Monday.
The idea is to lower Maryland's stormwater runoff into the Chesapeake Bay as required by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its bay cleanup plan. The problem is it is projected to cost a lot of money, $14.8 billion by 2025. Of the six states covered by the EPA mandate, only Maryland has established such a draconian tax. Impervious surfaces like rooftops, driveways and parking lots get hit. . . . .Read More
Annapolis, Md. –Today, House Republicans announced their plan to repeal Maryland’s Rain Tax. In the year since it was passed during the 2012 Legislative Session, the Stormwater Management – Watershed Protection Program, has proven to be nothing more than another excuse to tax Marylanders.
“If you ask the citizens of our State if they support efforts to clean up the Bay, you will hear a resounding ‘yes’. If you ask those same citizens if they support both a healthy environment and business climate, they will say ‘yes,’” said Delegate Cathy Vitale (Anne Arundel County). “These principals are not mutually exclusive. However, the hasty manner in which the Rain Tax was passed failed to take into consideration the impact this legislation would have on industries that are now treated differently from county to county, and on ‘consumer purchasing’ from one to the other as only some businesses will have to build in these costs to their products and services.”
“We’ve had more than a year to see how this policy would play out, and so far it has done nothing to improve the Chesapeake Bay,” said Delegate Wayne Norman, the bill’s lead sponsor. “Cleaning up the Bay is a regional issue and it is foolish to make ten counties in Maryland the primary focus of these efforts. We need to repeal the Rain Tax and find a new, equitable solution that will actually improve the health of the Bay.”
The Rain Tax is one of more than 80 tax, toll and fee increases levied on Maryland’s citizens by the O’Malley/Brown Administration.
Ulman's ORIGINAL proposal to tax Howard County residents for the Rain
In 2013, the Maryland General Assembly ordered the 10 largest jurisdictions in the state to create a source of money (a "rain tax") to fight the pollution that comes from storm water run-off. The bill targeted "impervious surfaces" (any solid surface that prevents rainwater from sinking directly into the ground).
Montgomery County was given an exemption because it had existing programs that were supposed to solve the problem.
Carroll County refused to institute a new tax, prompting the news media to headline an article, "Rain Remains 'Free' in Carroll County." County Commissioner Shoemaker argued that "we really don't need to impose this stupid, silly, idiotic tax, do we?" arguing that, like Montgomery, Carroll has "been doing it [fighting pollution] for years."
Other jurisdictions worked hard to limit the tax on their residents, uniformly opting for a flat dollar figure --
All except Howard County.
County Executive Ken Ulman proposed and the County Council on a 4-1 vote passed legislation for Howard County that required all property owners (including non-profits, churches, hospitals, etc.) to pay based on a "formula" that counted only the "impervious surface" on a landowner's property, rather than the percent of impervious surface covering the entire parcel. For example, on an average residential lot, the house and driveway may cover 50% of the land, whereas on a farm, the house, driveway, barns and other agricultural buildings will cover only a small portion of the land. This means that the farms are preserving a significant amount of open land to absorb rainwater.
The upshot of this formula was to create an annual Rain Tax that amounted to $1,000's of dollars for many constituents -- including some with bills around $4,000 and one individual who would suffer a $30,000 annual charge.
The lone Republican on the Council (Greg Fox) made a valiant effort to respond the this egregious inequity with a bill to put a cap on the residential tax.
In one of the most politically inept moves of all time, the Democrats on the Council voted to reject the bill without allowing a hearing, thereby depriving every injured constituent of the right to be heard! Their only reason? Process. The existing bill had only been in effect a short while and had had a full hearing in the community.
It must have come as a shock to the Democrats on the Council when the County Executive undermined his own piece of legislation shortly after the Council refused to. As Gazette columnist, Blair Lee, wrote on June 28, "Ken Ulman is defending Howard County residents against the onerous "rain tax," which takes effect next week. . . "But the rain tax Ulman is now watering down (pun intended) is the same rain tax that Ulman, himself, proposed last winter and which the council adopted in March."
The County Executive issued a notice that he would NOT be assessing the Rain Tax in July (as was to happen) and he proposed the following changes to the Rain Tax legislation, whic were adopted by the council:
Townhouses & condos will be charged $15
Single family detached house on a lot of a 1/4 acre or less will be charged
$45 Single family detached houses on more than a 1/4 acre will be charged $9
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