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Md. Environmentalists Against Repeal Of The Rain Tax Outline Benefits

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)–With some in the state legislature moving to repeal the so-called “rain tax,” those in favor of keeping it promise a fight.

Alex DeMetrick reports right now, 10 counties and the city of Baltimore are under orders to raise fees to clean stormwater runoff.

It’s not really a tax on rain. it’s a fee to reduce the pollutants that wash off hard surfaces during a rain and flow as stormwater runoff into waterways that feed the bay.

“When you have just one inch of rain on a hard surface, 27,000 gallons of polluted runoff flood our local streams,” said Will Baker, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

It’s the kind of statistic the Chesapeake Bay Foundation used to secure a state law requiring fees be imposed for things like roofs and driveways for property owners and parking lots for businesses and churches.

“When I opened the tax bill, I just couldn’t believe the numbers. It totally floored me,” said business owner Ron Gates.

“When I got the $4,700 rain tax bill, it wasn’t funny anymore,” said Nancy Correlli, Baltimore Boating Center.

“We hate to say it. It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars a year,” said Bill McCarthy, Catholic Charities.

What was designed to clean water instead stirred it up and there is a move to repeal the law, so the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is bringing a study to the fight that’s about more than improving runoff.

Backers of the fee say it’s as much a financial opportunity as it is a financial bite.

“What’s going to come out of this is 5,000 jobs. We’re talking about hundreds of businesses getting started or getting stronger,” said Adam Ortiz, Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources.

The first repeal hearing on the stormwater fees is set at the State House for Tuesday.

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