“Rain Tax” Going Away in Baltimore County

Oct 20, 2015

The Baltimore County Council, (l to r) David Marks, Todd Crandell, Cathy Bevins, chair, Julian Jones, Vicki Almond, Tom Quirk and Wade Kach
Credit John Lee

The Baltimore County Council plans to repeal the county’s storm water management fee. All seven members of the Council said Monday they are united to phase out the so-called rain tax over the next two years.

Council Chair Cathy Bevins says she and her fellow council members heard loud and clear that voters don’t like it.

"No matter where I go, who I talk to, it’s been a burden in my district,"Bevins said. "When I was door knocking again in 2014 people let me know that."

The fee stems from EPA’s Chesapeake Bay pollution diet.

During its 2012 session, the General Assembly passed legislation requiring the state’s 10 largest counties and most urban jurisdictions to establish the fee to pay for projects to reduce polluted run-off into the bay and its tributaries. Lawmakers removed the fee requirement during the 2015 session, but did not remove requirements for those jurisdictions to clean up storm water pollution.

Bevins and the other members of the Council say they can find the money in the county’s budget.

But Don Mohler, County Executive Kevin Kamentz’s chief of staff, says it’s not that easy. Mohler says that Kamentez will have to either raise property taxes or cut the budget by about $16 million to pay for the projects. And the executive’s not about to raise taxes, he adds.

So, the cuts will have to come from parks, schools and road improvements, Mohler says.

The fact that all seven council members support repealing the fee means Kamenetz cannot stop it with a veto.