The Baltimore Sun reported this morning on a study that confirms the effects of toxic runoff and remediation on water quality. Protecting Maryland’s water and our precious Chesapeake Bay are essential, yet the Baltimore County Council — including my opponent, Tom Quirk — voted unanimously in 2015 to repeal the stormwater remediation fee, rip off their constituents, and degrade our water.
This fee paid for projects to clean up toxic runoff. Homeowners only paid $26 per year, while businesses paid based on their area of impervious surfaces (like parking lots). The repeal was a scam, because it didn’t actually save any money. It just shifted more of the burden onto the taxpayers. The county still has to pay for remediation under the Clean Water Act, which means that some $16 million dollars every year is taken from elsewhere in the budget to pay for it. That’s $48 million dollars since the repeal that could have funded urgent necessities such as new schools or recreation facilities. The council assured us that the county would find enough money to pay for projects, but it’s nowhere near enough; a report from the Center for Progressive Reform a year after the repeal found that of the 10 counties studied, Baltimore County was at or near the bottom on all measures for stormwater pollution control spending.
We must protect our water, and we must do it without taking money away from the badly needed infrastructure investments. Businesses should be responsible for their greater environmental impact. If elected to the County Council, I will re-introduce this fee, with exemptions for homeowners and businesses that mitigate their runoff. I will do everything I can do secure clean water.