Howard County launches programs to help non-profits, religious groups with 'rain tax'

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - Howard County non-profits and religious organizations can now join a program to help them reduce or eliminate the impact of the Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee, commonly known as the "rain tax."

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman Thursday announced the launch of the Watershed Protection Partnership Program, which creates a credit for up to 100 percent of the local stormwater fee for tax-exempt properties that partner with the county to identify and establish best management practices.  The County will offer assistance in developing those plans, and grants to implement those practices and projects.

"This program is a true partnership, and will accomplish two goals," said Ulman in a statement.  "It will make sure that many properties throughout the County are doing their part to keep the Chesapeake Bay clean, and it will reduce the financial burden for many organizations which are doing so much good for the community already."

The county this week distributed notices to the owners of 181 properties, notifying them of how the program will operate.  Property owners who choose to participate must submit a notice of intent by Oct. 31. Those that do will receive a credit on the initial Watershed Protection and Restoration bill, to be issued later this year.  The county will then develop a best-practices treatment plan for each property that treats stormwater on-site to the maximum extent practicable.

"I think the non-profit community in Howard County is ready to do its part," said Carol Beatty, Executive Director of The Arc of Howard County in a statement.  "We look forward to partnering with the County to keep water clean for the benefit of us all.  This program encourages everyone to do the right thing, without an undue burden."

Applications for the program will be accepted until Dec. 31.  For applications submitted after the Notice of Intent deadline, a refund of the initial fee will be provided.

The program has a second option, allowing property owners to receive credits based on the percentage of stormwater treated on-site, after the work is in place and documented.

The credit program was created as part of the fee plan adopted by the Howard County Council in June.  Fees for non-residential properties are based on the amount of impervious surface on the property.

Additional information and application forms are available at  www.cleanwaterhoward.com

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