Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman said the federal government
should help navigate the financial burden left by a state-mandated Chesapeake
Bay restoration effort.
Neuman testified before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing in Grasonville on Tuesday, saying she believed the state had erred in laying the monumental task of Bay restoration at the feed of the state’s 10 largest jurisdictions.
As part of the EPA’s so-called pollution diet, this year the state required areas including Anne Arundel and Baltimore to establish a stormwater program and a fee structure to pay for Bay restoration efforts.
On Tuesday, Neuman said there was only so much each targeted county in the state could do, and the federal government should come up with a more creative solution.
"We look to our federal partners for a more creative and collaborative approach to achieving our goals,” Neuman said.
In May, Neuman attempted to veto the stormwater bill, which took the County Council and planners months to prepare. Her veto was overridden in a 5-2 vote by the council.
County Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-6th District), who championed the legislative end of the stormwater fee system earlier this year, said finding the right solution for the task ahead has been challenging, but he would not turn down federal or state assistance.
“However, I want to be clear that we can't afford to stop or delay our work while we wait for other resources to materialize. If we want our public waterways to be safe and clean for our residents, we need to continue our work, not halt it,” Trumbauer said in an email to Patch.
Trumbauer said he believes the local stormwater fees are the best way to fund the effort, because the money raised from taxpayers is reinvested back into the county through the projects and the jobs created by them.
Neuman said the Bay was a national treasure, and the cost of its upkeep should not be constrained to a few communities.
“When we shift this responsibility to a few counties, we are placing the burden of a national resource on a local community,” she said.