Stormwater Fee Bill Withdrawn, May Return Later
Councilman Chris Trumbauer says there was no clear support from his colleagues for the bill at this time.
After Tuesday's Anne Arundel County Council meeting, the future appears uncertain for a proposed $35 stormwater fee. But the bill's sponsor promised it wasn't the end of the proposal.
Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-Annapolis) pulled his bill seeking the stormwater fee on Tuesday. The bill would have funded between $10-15 million annually towards stormwater improvements across the county to address enhanced guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency, commonly referred to as the Chesapeake Bay's pollution diet.
Trumbauer said there wasn't a clear show of support among the other councilmen, so he chose to withdraw it for now, with plans to reintroduce it in a few months.
"This problem isn't going to go away. This is not a defeat of this issue. This is just making sure that we take the time to get it right," Trumbauer said.
The councilman said he would be using the next few months to work alongside the county's Department of Public Works and other agencies to further improve the bill before reintroducing it at a later date.
Another factor in the bill's delay was a desire to hear what kinds of stormwater measures the state will fund, Trumbauer said. Those discussions have been ongoing with state legislators, and Trumbauer said he expects to know more in a few months.
"Part of the reluctance of my colleagues to support this is the uncertainty of what's going to happen at the state level," Trumbauer said. "I get that. But I think there's a strong possibility that the need for this issue will actually emerge stronger after the general assembly makes its decision."
The bill's co-sponsor, Councilman Dick Ladd (R-Broadneck), reiterated that this bill would help begin paying for the estimated $950 million in improvements needed to meet the enhanced demands on water quality in the Chesapeake Bay around Anne Arundel County.
"The problem is both here and now. It's a matter of safety to people on the ground in addition to people on the water," Ladd said. "If we can't get started on a project of this scope, we at least want to make sure that we're not continuing to add or increase the backlog of repair and maintenance work on existing infrastructure."
Following Ladd's comments, Trumbauer withdrew the bill, hearing no complaints from his fellow councilmen.
When the bill was first introduced in December, it was criticized by the county executive's representatives, received only mixed reactions from other council members, but saw a huge show of support from local environmental leaders.
Trumbauer said that their support will help make this bill better in the end.