The 2015 Maryland General Assembly passed and the Governor signed SB 863, which lifted the state mandate requiring 10 local jurisdictions to establish a Watershed Protection Fee. However, this bill did not lift the federal mandate requiring local jurisdictions to treat impervious surfaces (such as parking lots) within their borders. Howard County is still required to treat 20 percent of its total curently untreated impervious area by 2019 under present requirements.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, Howard County experienced a $15.8 million shortfall, requiring mid-year budget cuts. Further, the county anticipates only $15.6 million in increased revenue for FY 2016, with the majority of that money automatically assigned to the Howard County Public School System to fulfill the State’s Maintenance of Effort formula. This challenging fiscal situation led the Spending Affordability Committee to recommend the continuation of the Watershed Protection Fee for FY 2016. Based on this recommendation, the County Executive determined it to be fiscally prudent to continue the Watershed Protection Fee for FY 2016.