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The Tentacle


May 6, 2013

What’s Up-stream? A “Rain Tax”

Steven R. Berryman

Not so business friendly Maryland has added another reason to leave the state: a “rain tax” to go along with your gas tax, gun tax, liquor tax, etc. The Maryland Environmental Protection Agency (MDEPA) has mandated cash from counties to compensate for nitrogen polluting the Chesapeake Bay.

 

Specifically, should you be home or business, satellite imagery will measure your flat surfaces that cover land that would otherwise filter water as it drains. What qualifies: The roof of your home or office building, your basketball court, parking lot, and patio will all be measured by the square foot, and a fee will be required based upon this amount.

 

Does your business or home owner’s association maintain a large parking lot? Car dealerships?

 

State Sen. David Brinkley, as quoted in yesterday’s Frederick News-Post editorial said:

 

“Some companies are already planning moves out of state. We’ve talked a lot about Maryland’s competition with Virginia, which has a much more favorable business climate. Taxes like this only chip away at the thinning foundations that keep them here.”

 

Fees collected are said by the General Assembly to be used for mitigating the negative impact of things that flow off of your flat surfaces and concentrate, especially nitrogen from fertilizer and phosphates from laundry detergent. This impacts the oxygen level of our bay, killing fish, and encouraging the growth of sunlight blocking algae, similarly to our beautiful Carroll Creek in downtown Frederick.

 

It is a study in contrasts that in Maryland, we blame guns themselves for gun-crimes, but we blame taxpayers for fertilizer-crimes.

 

Not to mention that The Maryland General Assembly and your MDEPA assume that your income increases every year, so that a marginal increase in your total tax burden would hardly be noticed. They would solve everything by throwing (your) money at the problems!

 

Perhaps they have not yet heard of Barack Obama’s “sequestration!”

 

A “doubting me” even suspects that any revenue ultimately collected from a “Rain Tax” would be diverted to pay off the under-funded – but obligated – pension funds that are not self-generating, or simply end up in some general slush fund, like the leakage from the state’s transportation lockbox.

 

To restate, the issue at hand is storm water runoff pollution. Surely farming further from streams, and better rules for Scott’s Turf Builder are justified, as is some style laundry soap. But why not look to the source of the problem?

 

The source is also upstream in Pennsylvania and New York, up the Susquehanna River and up into parts of Delaware as well. Marylanders will pay for the convenient “dumpage” of others. Can we sue them to recover our bay instead of chasing taxpayers away from the Free State?

 

At the Frederick County level, a one penny tax has been drafted by the Board of County Commissioners to-date, in protest of the “Rain Tax.” It’s like our own little tea party! Sounds like Blaine Young, doesn’t it?

 

Of course, the county can and will be taken to court for not coming up with the millions required in taxed mandate as discussed above, so a large revolt seems to be in order; this is now widely being suggested.

 

Ah, the joys of defending ones wealth and hard earned income against a government that assumes you are the cash cow of their farm, as opposed to being the citizen holding a government accountable.

 

Time to head out to my backyard now and measure my sidewalk pavers. While I’m there, maybe I can find my goose and those golden eggs.

 

srbmgr@gmail.com

 



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