Stormwater Utility Fee

About the Fee
Effective July 2012, the Maryland State Legislature passed the “Storm Water Management - Watershed Protection and Restoration Program”, also known as House Bill 987 (HB987). The law requires 9 counties, including Frederick County, and the City of Baltimore to establish a storm water utility fee on or before July 1, 2013.

The Board of County Commissioners voted on May 30, 2013 to adopt a 1 cent ($0.01) per year storm water utility fee on all eligible properties to comply with HB987. HB987 does not affect other regulatory compliance goals.

Exemption Regulations
Local and state government properties as well as volunteer fire company properties are exempt under the law. Frederick County is electing not to charge properties in municipalities, as many have their own storm water permit requirements. Frederick County does not wish to duplicate costs on these citizens. Agricultural and not-for-profit properties are not exempt from the fee.

NPDES MS4 Permit Compliance

Frederick County is required to comply with a federal Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). The County’s NPDES MS4 permit has substantial requirements for monitoring, mapping, inspections, maintenance, special studies, and other tasks. The most expensive requirement is to retrofit surfaces in urban areas with storm water management facilities. The state requires retrofits because these areas do not allow water to filter and percolate. Frederick County predicts that its next NPDES MS4 permit, currently in draft, would cost the county over $112 million to comply, including $96 million for storm water retrofits.

Industrial Discharge Permits
Frederick County also has Industrial Discharge Permits for Storm water for a number of its facilities. These permits require quarterly and yearly inspections, trainings, good housekeeping, and other actions to control Storm water discharges.

Projected Fee Collection
$950.86 has been collected as of October 31, 2014, based on collecting 1 cent from each eligible property since July 1, 2013. No funds from this fee have been spent as of this date.  Funds collected through the fee will be set aside to pay for storm water-related activities as required by the law. Frederick County spent an average of $2.5 million per year on storm water permit compliance through the general fund from taxes through Fiscal Year 2013. It currently fund stormwater compliance efforts through the general fund. The county increased its budget in Fiscal Year 2014 to $3.56 million with the Fiscal Year 2015 budget at $5.35 million.

Remediation Fee Appeals
A property owner may appeal a storm water remediation fee assessment as required by HB987. An appeal shall be submitted to the Director of the Treasury on or before September 30 to receive a correction of the fee. The property owner shall include a detailed statement of the grounds of the appeal and supporting information on the grounds for the appeal. The Community Development Division will issue a determination on the appeal on behalf of the director. Grounds for appeal include:
  1. Mathematical errors in calculating the fee
  2. The real property is not subject to the fee under § 1-15.2-11.5 of the ordinance
  3. The property owner is exempt from the fee under § 1-15.2-11.6 of the ordinance
  4. Errors in the identification of the property owner or real property subject to the fee.
Financial Hardship Program
There is a financial hardship program required by HB987. To qualify for a substantial financial hardship exemption the property must already have an exemption for Frederick County's Bay Restoration Fund Fee. Properties with this exemption will automatically be exempt under the storm water utility fee.

Credit Program

A credit program is required by HB987 and will be adopted in the future through the direction of the Director of the Community Development Division.