In March of this year, the Baltimore County Council, as mandated by state law, enacted a bill allowing the County to collect a Stormwater Remediation Fee from all real property owners in Baltimore County. The fee, affectionately known as the “rain tax”, will be deposited in a Stormwater Management Fund to be solely used to offset the cost of stormwater management services provided to those who live and work in the County including the improvement of the water quality of stormwater runoff, reducing adverse water impacts from development, and funding the implementation of water quality education and restoration projects.
Owners of residential property are assessed a flat fee ranging from $21-$39 a year depending on the type of dwelling they own. Owners of commercial properties and institutional properties including churches, hospitals and private schools pay a fee that is based on the total square footage of impervious surface, such as parking lots, roads and roofs, on the property. Identification and measurement of these surfaces is done through the use of aerial photographs and the fee assessed is $69 per 2,000 square feet of impervious land for industrial and commercial property and $20 per 2,000 square feet for institutional property.
Appeals are allowed, however an appeal must be made within 30 days after the bill for the fee is received. The fee is identified as a separate item on the owner’s real property tax bill. An initial appeal is made to the County Administrative Officer (“Officer”) or the Officer’s designee. Bases for appeal include incorrect classification of real property, errors in the calculation of the impervious surface of the property, errors in the identification of the property or identification of practices that provide “significant pollution reduction for meeting total Maximum Daily Loads.” Owners of industrial, commercial and institutional property can also request a credit for installation of County-approved stormwater best-management practices (BMPs) that reduce the property’s pollutant load. The County must approve the BMP and the credit is based on the amount of surface that drains to the BMP and its efficiency. It is recommended that if you believe the Stormwater Remediation Fee assessed on your property is inaccurate, you should promptly contact an attorney to assist you in assessing your options for appeal.