posted on Apr, 13 2013 @ 11:05 PM
Living in Maryland, I can actually give a bit of commentary about this.
The biggest problem that the state is having is water run-off hitting the streams, rivers and tributaries that wash into the Chesapeake. That being
said, the state has come up with a brilliant idea. They require most major highways to build a holding reservoir at some point along the road to catch
the water that drains from the pavement so it doesn't wash into the many of the various creeks, swamps and water feeders that move into the bay.
It's a decent concept, except for the fact that the state is flat broke.
The money that the state pulls in via the various toll plazas, mainly the two tunnels in Baltimore, and the I-95 and Rt 40 bridges between the
Harford/Cecil counties lines are supposed to go into the State Highway fund. Every year during the Thanksgiving travel rush, the local MSM news
sources go on non-stop about how much, in the millions of dollars, worth of revenue that the tolls bring in during the 'Busiest Travel Weekend' of
the year, not including Memorial day when everyone heads to the beaches on the Delmarva.
The problem with that is the state has a horrible spending issue, and what's supposed to be put aside for the State Highway Administration is raided,
so these cistern building projects are unfunded. Next, they decide that a small portion of the state, and I'd assume EPA mandatory emissions fee goes
to fund the bay preservation as well. Not a bad idea when it's on paper, but again, that fund is raided as well.
Next, we also have a special license plate; 'Save the Bay', which the majority of the cost of that vehicle tag is considered a donation to the Bay
Fund as well. And since most people when they register their vehicles don't get a new tag, it's pretty much a one time donation. Not sure how much
of the re-registration fee goes into this fund every 3 years (which I'll know come July when I have to register my vehicle again) I'm sure I'll
find out then how much of that exactly goes into that same coffer box.
Now, onto the whole rain tax thing. In my county, we actually pay that tax twice, and once July hits, it looks like we'll be paying that tax in
triplicate. First, it comes in the water bill every three months. Residents of the city pay a 5 dollar a month water service charge to the town for
Bay preservation. Second tax is to the county. And starting in July, we'll also be paying it to the state.
What the state wants to do, is take this money and use it to build and maintain these cisterns along the highways to prevent this run-off from
entering the watershed. Water goes in, and then the sediments end up collecting, get dense and sink to the bottom of the pool. Issue is, once they're
built, if it's on public land, it's up to the tax payer to maintain said collection pools. If it's on a private piece of land, like a development
or private community, the state or county is firm in their belief that it's up to that community, usually a homeowners association to handle the
maintenance. Most of these though are aging. Plenty have collapsed and have had the entire collection wash over the roads, or their own embankments
into the streams and then further on into the feeders for the bay.
Here is the big problem though. By all estimates, if the state were to collect this money and actually use it for true purpose, they could build, fix
and maintain every one of these pools within a very short amount of time. What happens after it's done? The big fear is that it will become another
play fund, just like the toll collection. With a supposed 12 cent gas tax increase coming(which also is supposed to go into maintaining roads and the
cisterns that accompany them) plus another push to increase sales tax, they are breaking the pocketbooks of their residents.
Another pointed issue is that they claim that the tax will be fairly distributed among the citizens of the state, yet there are certain counties that
will end up paying far less than others. We're talking hundred dollar gap between some of these counties.
In summary, Annapolis thinks they know what they're doing, but in reality they are just grinding their constituents to the point of breaking and
turning around and pocketing the cash that's brought in. It's going to be the same song and dance as when the casinos lobbied the state for gambling
rights. A promise that a huge cut would go to education, yet they've failed to deliver on any of their word.
A rain tax would fix the issue in the short run, then the coffer will be plundered like every other fund once the project has been completed, or never
completed in the first place and yet another tax will be substituted because 'Oh no, the rain tax didn't work.'