Delegate Steve Schuh announced today that he supports County Council Bill 90-13, which would reduce the County’s Rain Tax to $1 per year from the current level of $34 to $170 per year.
“I support the proposed reduction because the citizens of Anne Arundel County should not have been burdened with an overall increase in taxes in the first place,” Schuh said. “The County’s Rain Tax was a misguided overreaction to federal and state stormwater mandates. I applaud the sponsoring Councilmen for introducing this important corrective legislation.”
The County Council adopted the Rain Tax, Bill 02-13, earlier this year in response to the State’s stormwater legislation of 2012 (HB 987), which was a response to a federal mandate to reduce the amount of pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay from stormwater runoff. The State bill required ten Maryland counties to establish funding mechanisms for stormwater management infrastructure projects, such as repair of storm pipes and restoration of eroded creeks. The State bill authorized the counties to fund the mandate in whatever manner they chose, including funding the mandate from existing resources by adopting an equivalent cut in another tax or fee. Anne Arundel County’s response to the State mandate was one of the most financially burdensome in the entire State.
“The proposed reduction to $1 is consistent with the State mandate and relieves the citizens of most of the financial burden of an additional tax,” Schuh said. “I would also urge the County Council to go one step further by adopting a cut in the property tax in order to offset the remaining Rain Tax so that no incremental tax burden is placed on citizens.”
Anne Arundel County operates under a voter-approved property tax revenue cap that limits property tax rates. Many people regard the Rain Tax as another property tax that circumvents the County’s tax cap. Delegate Schuh stated, “The combination of the Rain Tax and the traditional property tax exceeds the County’s tax cap and is therefore unconstitutional. By reducing the Rain Tax to $1 and adopting a cut in the property tax equal to the remaining Rain Tax, the combination of the two taxes will be within the limits of the County’s tax cap. I believe strongly that the County’s elected leaders should operate within the letter and spirit of the tax cap.”
Delegate Schuh supports the $18 million in stormwater infrastructure projects that are budgeted for next year and that were to be funded by the Rain Tax. “I fully support the planned infrastructure projects and believe the County has the capacity to fund those projects from existing resources,” he said.
If the County Council fails to enact the proposed reduction in the Rain Tax, Schuh intends to propose legislation next year to adopt an approximately 2.5 cent cut in the property tax to offset entirely the financial impact on citizens of the current Rain Tax. This proposal would relieve taxpayers of the financial burden of the Rain Tax, enable the County to remain in compliance with the State’s mandate, and assure that the combination of the two taxes is below the tax cap.
Steve Schuh is a State Delegate representing District 31 in Anne Arundel County and is a candidate for Anne Arundel County Executive.