Rain, rain go away.
Come again some other day
to wash pollution in the Bay.
rain, rain go away.
What a dreary day. We're either recovering from over-eating or over-shopping plus dreading going back to work or school. And, what's worse, it's raining.
The issue of Howard County's storm water fee and how we will meet our obligation to care for the Chesapeake Bay was back in the news this week. County Executive Alan Kittleman, working with the lone man on his home team, Councilman Greg Fox, is proposing to end the fee and pay for the County's obligation some other way. (Not a direct quote, but close enough for jazz.)
I haven't written about this in the past because it's a complex issue and all the noise seemed to me to be about "It's a rain tax" vs "No it isn't". But something here makes my scratch my head. There's only a finite amount of money in the budget. And that comes from our tax money, yes? Mr. Kittleman says,
I felt then, as I still do now, that creating another tax or fee was unnecessary, excessive and a burden on working families and small businesses...
So, he doesn't want to add an additional tax or fee. Which means he feels we already have enough money to pay for these projects in the budget. Really?
I didn't know that we were exactly rolling in it right now in Howard County. It seems as though it's been all gloom and doom and cutting back since Mr. Kittleman took office. I sat through a budget request hearing where representatives from non-profits that provide a crucial network of services for our most vulnerable citizens were (basically) begging to get back at least some of the funds that had been cut by this administration.
It stands to reason that if Mr. Kittleman is going to pay for our stormwater obligations out of the monies we have already, that something(s) else will have to be cut. And then, if that thing (or things) is really important, the citizens of Howard County will either: suffer without, or have to find a way to fund it/them.
Wouldn't that be an additional fee or tax?
Changing the way this looks is great for Mr. Kittleman and those in his party who are strongly opposed to it. And if he can make it work through prudent financial stewardship, more power to him. Perhaps he'll need to go out like Councilman Weinstein to round up sponsorship from the private sector. I don't know.
But from where I sit this still looks like smoke and mirrors. What is it that the old Magic Eight Ball used to say? "Reply hazy. Try again." So I'll keep an eye on this. An announcement is, of course, just the beginning of the process.
In the meantime, let's not forget the whole point of this, which is far bigger than the whims or politics of Howard County.