State Senator Bryan Simonaire and State Delegate Steve Schuh announced that they have drafted legislation for pre-filing that will exempt Anne Arundel County from State requirements related to funding of stormwater management projects. The pre-filed bill is entitled “Anne Arundel County’s Rain Tax Repeal Act of 2014” (Reference LR # 4LR0339).
The legislation will remove Anne Arundel County from the list of 10 jurisdictions included in HB 987, which mandates that the listed jurisdictions provide a funding mechanism for projects related to stormwater management, including repairs to stormwater pipes and outfalls and restorations of eroded creeks.
Currently, there are 9 counties and Baltimore City under the 2012 state mandate. By removing Anne Arundel County from the state mandate, it is the goal of Senator Simonaire and Delegate Schuh that the County Council will substantially amend or repeal the Rain Tax they imposed on County residents.
HB 987 of 2012 required the listed jurisdictions to prioritize funding of stormwater management projects. The bill did not require the adoption of a Rain Tax or any other specific tax or fee. The jurisdictions were free to fund the mandate from existing resources or to offset any new tax or fee with a reduction of an existing tax or fee.
While the County Council already had been granted authority to raise revenues for stormwater management years ago, they used this mandate to justify their legislation that implemented a new and onerous Rain Tax.
To date, Anne Arundel County has already allocated millions of dollars for stormwater infrastructure projects, much like Carroll County. However, unlike Carroll County, our County chose not to use those existing revenues to meet the state mandate. Instead, our County Council created the additional tax known as the “Rain Tax”.
Again in stark contrast, Anne Arundel County is now phasing in an annual charge of over $20 million in new Rain Taxes purportedly because of the state mandate; Carroll County, on the other hand, is charging zero additional taxes.
Additionally, despite the fact that Anne Arundel County already met the state mandate with existing revenues, the County saw this as an easy way to raise millions more in new taxes and blame it on the State. In fact, our County Council recently passed an ordinance to specifically proclaim in all annual property tax bills that it was the state mandate that required the County to charge a Rain Tax.
Senator Simonaire stated, “Government is getting drunk consuming our money and it is time to put a stop to this ludicrous behavior. Maryland’s Rain Tax has become the laughing stock of our Nation. Our legislation takes the first step in repealing a money grabbing, overreaching and poorly thought out piece of County legislation.”
Delegate Schuh commented: “The State’s stormwater bill of 2012 was intended to give local governments the authority to prioritize stormwater management projects in whatever manner they chose and to avoid the imposition of a statewide fee or tax. The State bill did not require the counties to adopt a Rain Tax. The Rain Tax was a choice made by the County Council.”
Delegate Schuh continued: “Anne Arundel County could have met State and Federal requirements by funding these worthwhile stormwater management projects using existing resources without adopting any new taxes or fees. We gave the kids the keys to the car, and they drove it into a ditch.”