|February 11, 2021 03:40 PM
|Senator Lisa Baker
|All Senate members
|Stormwater Fee Protections for Farms
|In the near future, I plan to reintroduce legislation that would establish reasonable limitations on stormwater management fees that may be assessed against farmers.
Because of federally driven regulation, many municipalities – especially those in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed – are required to develop and maintain extensive systems to manage stormwater. These municipalities will be required to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs to comply with federal requirements, without dedicated federal or state funds to help pay for those costs. Local elected officials across the state are understandably frustrated and confused by this scattershot approach.
As municipalities are forced to fund stormwater improvements, farmers find themselves in a unique position particularly when new property assessments are levied. The rates adopted by numerous municipalities and municipal authorities are narrowly based on the amount of impervious surface on a property, without adequate consideration of factors that effectively control stormwater runoff. Examples include open space, best management practices and infrastructure installed by the landowner. Farmers who have already been good stewards of the land, likely already meeting or surpassing federal requirements of the USDA, should not be overly burdened.
My legislation amends the Second Class Township Code and would ensure farms that have open space and conservation measures are recognized for these important efforts. The legislation would establish a maximum rate that a municipality or municipal authority could impose on farms, based on the rate paid by the median property owner. Only those farm properties whose percentage of impervious surface is at or below thirty percent of the farm’s total land area would qualify for this lower assessment rate.
This bill was introduced last session as Senate Bill 1026 and was co-sponsored by Senators Bartolotta, Mastriano, Mensch, Stefano, Vogel and J.Ward.
Please consider joining this effort for a more fair approach to our farm families.
Introduced as SB637