Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One Vote from a Stormwater Start

Monday's County Council meeting held several pleasant surprises. Most notable among them was Ron Dillon's recent effort to champion a stormwater utility that would build upon the County Executive's SMART fund effort.

Councilman Dillon appears to have gotten religion on the issue, declaring, "We have been 30-plus years trying to save the bay. We haven't gotten very far. It's time to be radical."

Can I get an "Amen"?

Councilmen Dillon, Benoit, and Cohen introduced the amendment to charge each residence a $25 annual fee and each business/industrial site a $100 annual fee to be used to correct the damage that has been caused by stormwater runoff at Monday's meeting. The bill will be voted on at the next meeting.

Councilwoman Vitale, who apparently thinks the $1.3 billion problem can be solved by creating tax incentives for rain barrels, "felt sandbagged" by the maneuver. However, it would be great to see her get behind this bi-partisan bill (perhaps with an amendment to create parallel incentives for good stormwater management practices), and help push Anne Arundel County to the forefront in the efforts to clean up the Bay. The bill has particular relevance for Ms. Vitale given the proposed $3.5 million going into the restoration of North Cypress Branch, on the Magothy, in her district.

Despite the fact that Councilman Middlebrooks, the most vociferous opponent of the bill, insists on calling the utility a tax, this issue was resolved last year, in a decision by the Attorney General's office.

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