Salisbury Mulls Potential Stormwater Utility Fees - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salisbury Mulls Potential Stormwater Utility Fees

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

SALISBURY, Md.- The wet and rainy weather was a perfect backdrop Thursday for local business owners who were learning about potential stormwater utility fees in Salisbury and Wicomico County.

The state of Maryland has already required 10 larger metro areas to implement stormwater utility fees under the Watershed Implementation Program.  If the state decides to expand that plan, Wicomico County could be next and required to implement fees of its own. Salisbury has decided to get ahead of the game and is already considering a stormwater fee of its own.

Jack Lenox, who is director of the Salisbury/Wicomico County Department of Planning, Zoning and Community Development, laid out the details of a stormwater utility fee and the Watershed Implementation Program to local business leaders Thursday at the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce. Area business leaders said that while the fee may be inevitable, they hope it will be reasonable.

"If this fee or tax, whatever you want to call it, is imposed, if it is imposed in a manner that is conducive to the well  being of the business community, I think it would be acceptable," said Chamber Director Ernie Colburn.

The purpose of the stormwater utility fee is to generate revenue to maintain infrastructure and reduce the amount of nutrients that end up in the Chesapeake Bay. James McNaughton, who is the chief scientific officer at AHPharma in Salisbury, said he sees no problem with the fee if the money is used wisely.

"How the fees are bring spent, whether is just an income source or whether it is actually going toward cleaning up the bay and cleaning up the environment around this area, that's important to us and we have no problem with that," said McNaughton.

Jeff Merritt, who co-owns Minuteman Press in Salisbury, said that he would also like to see the money spent wisely, but another fee may be tough for business owners.

"I think we need to really think about what fees we are going to require businesses to pay. In the business environment right now, we need to keep it as friendly as possible," said Merritt.

The city of Salisbury will meet with representatives from the city of Berlin later this month.  The Worcester County town has already implemented stormwater utility fees of its own.

Wicomico County officials said they are going to wait for the state to mandate these fees until they put a stormwater plan together.

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