Thursday, August 10, 2006

Restoring Our Waterways

Today's Post has good piece explaining the proposed Anne Arundel County Watershed Restoration Fund. In this election year, support for the fund, which would raise $36 million a year for the dedicated purpose of stream restoration and storm drainage projects is the local environmental issue facing county executive and county council candidates, as well the public-at-large.

The County is currently spending about $9 million a year on the maintenance and creation of stormwater infrastructure, and it still has a several hundred million dollar backlog. As with school maintenance, if we ever hope to get out of the hole that we're digging, we need to get serious about funding our ongoing needs. The current Council and Executive, with the exception of Pam Beidle (District 1) and Barbara Samorajczyk (District 6) have failed to exercise the leadership necessary to make these improvements occur. Let's hope the next Executive and Council don't show the same lack of will.

As of this post, only one County Executive candidate, George Johnson, has come out fully in support of the fund. Several County Council candidates, including Rik Forgo (District 1), Jamie Benoit (District 4), Devin Tucker (District 4), A.J. "Tito" Baca (District 5), Josh Cohen (District 6), Phil Dales (District 6), and Robert Tufts (District 7) have come out in support of the $5/month fee [If there are others, please send me an e-mail].

[One correction in the Post piece: The article states, "Businesses would pay a proportionate amount. Coalition leaders are hoping a newly elected council this fall would determine the best way to raise the money. An increase in property tax is one possibility." In fact, a property tax increase is not a possibility, as the tax cap would prevent that from happening. The most likely option is an additional utility fee, like many county residents currently pay for water, wastewater, and trash.]

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