The Washington Post

Rushern Baker proposes stormwater runoff fee to help pay Bay cleanup costs

Prince George’s County homeowners could pay up to $62 annually for a new fee to help fund a program to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

The fee, subject to approval by the County Council, would appear along with other utility fees on residents’ property tax bills. It was proposed Tuesday by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and would take effect later this year if approved by the council.

Businesses also are subject to a fee, which would be based on the amount of blacktop and other impervious surfaces on their properties. A nine-store strip shopping center would pay about $12,000 annually under Baker’s plan.

The county must enact some type of fee by July 1, to help pay for a program to minimize stormwater runoff, a major pollutant of the Bay. The program was mandated by the federal and state governments after a successful lawsuit by environmental groups. Several counties near the Bay, as well as Baltimore, are required to enact similar programs, and most already have.

Prince George’s officials have estimated that they need about $1.2 billion in revenue in the next decade to pay for their program, which would help finance stormwater management systems on county government and school system property.

Under the Prince George’s proposal, homeowners and businesses could lower their stormwater fees by better managing runoff from their properties. They may install rain gardens, green roofs, rain barrels and other systems to help cleanse runoff before it flows into waterways that empty into the Bay.

Prince George’s property taxes are capped by law. However, utility fees, such as the stormwater fee, are not subject to the cap.

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