BALTIMORE, MD – While Eastern Shore property owners brace for the news of how much they will be forced to pay, business owners and non-profits on the Western Shore of Maryland are already complaining about the new stormwater fees they will be charged starting July 1. Fees for homeowners are running from $18 to more than $100 per year. Businesses and non-profits estimate that their charges could be more than $10,000 per year in some cases. Because this is classified as a fee rather than a tax, non-profit organizations are not exempt.
On Tuesday, newly re-elected Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton is presenting his plan for improving downtown Salisbury. He is not expected to unveil the fee structure. Businesses question whether or not investment in Salisbury is cost-effective given that lower tax Delaware and Virginia are just a few miles to the north and south.
In Baltimore and other counties, businesses are being charged this fee even if they treat their own stormwater:
David C. McKenzie, vice president of Liquid Transfer Terminals Inc. in Curtis Bay, said his company pays about $58,000 in property taxes and could get hit with nearly $44,000 in stormwater fees. That fee is too high, McKenzie argues, because his company treats its own stormwater.
"A facility that manages its own stormwater is not treated any differently than a facility that does nothing to mitigate its stormwater pollution," he said.
One Baltimore business, Rukert Terminals Corp., estimates that its fee could be in excess of $300,000 per year.