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Montgomery Council Updates Water Quality Protection Charge Bill Will Broaden Types of Property Owners Who Pay; Approximately 90 Percent of Current Residential Payees Will Have Future Charges Reduced; Non-Profits Protected
  • Release ID: 13-103
  • Release Date: 4/17/2013
  • Contact: Neil Greenberger 240-777-7939 or Delphine Harriston240-777-7931
  • From: Council Office
The Montgomery County Council today unanimously approved Bill 34-12, which will expand the County’s Water Quality Protection Charge to all properties not otherwise exempt under state law. The bill implements a state law enacted in 2012. Approximately 90 percent of residential property owners who currently pay the charge will have their bills reduced next fiscal year.

The County assessed a Water Quality Protection Charge on all residential property owners in 2002, but many non-residential property owners were exempt from the charge. Currently only about 40 percent of non-residential property owners pay it.

As state law now requires, Bill 34-12 expands the scope of the charge to virtually all non-government properties. The expansion was intended to make sure beneficiaries of stormwater management programs pay into the fund that seeks to reduce rain runoff, prevent flooding in certain areas and protect harmful elements going into tributaries that lead to the Chesapeake Bay.

The measure approved today goes into effect on July 1. It keeps the total amount of revenue the County will collect in Fiscal Year 2014 from the Water Quality Protection Charge at approximately the same level in FY13 at about $23 million.
Any increased charges on individual properties will be phased in over a three-year period. [As the increased charges are phased in, the County expects overall annual revenues to the fund to increase.]

As enacted, the bill:

· Allows a property owner to apply for a credit for on-site stormwater management or for following best stormwater management practices.

· Capped the non-profit contribution at a small fraction of what commercial properties pay—in some cases less than 10 percent.

· Offsets the Charges for owners of some private roads.

To receive a credit or a hardship exemption, a property owner would have to apply by Sept. 30.

Executive Regulation 17-12 would implement Bill 34-12 and was discussed by the Council today in tandem with the bill. The Council is scheduled to take final action on Executive Regulation as soon as the County Executive transmits an amended version incorporating the changes supported by the Council today.

The regulation provides that:

· A more equitable fee structure will be in place so that all non-residential properties will now pay into the Water Quality Protection Fund.

· A more progressive residential fee structure based on actual impervious surface will be in place so that not all single-family homes or townhouses will pay the same charge as they do now.

· About 90 percent of residential property owners will pay less in FY14 than they are paying in FY13.

· Qualifying non-profit organizations will pay a fee based on a tier structure that includes a maximum charge for the largest qualifying non-profit properties estimated to be below $2,000 (the actual charge will depend on the rate approved by the Council in mid-May). Many non-profit organizations will pay far less.

Funds collected through the Water Quality Protection Charge will establish long-term schedules for identifying sources of pollution and for improving watersheds in the County. Funds will support regional strategies to reduce trash and increase recycling.

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Last edited: 1/15/2016  

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