By Steve Bittenbender
(The Center Square) – Two Pennsylvania state lawmakers said that residents and businesses have reached out to them concerned about new stormwater fees being assessed by local governments.
State Rep. Dawn Keefer, R-Dillsburg, and state Sen. Mike Regan, R-Carroll Township, said local governments must approve the fees as they’re facing mandates to improve the region’s rivers and streams. Still, any new levy to taxpayers must be within reason.
“[W]e are calling on municipal leaders to act as responsible stewards of your money and join us in calling on Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to provide substantiated, comprehensive data of current water quality and plans for monitoring water improvements,” the two lawmakers said in a joint op-ed published by the York Daily Record.
In the op-ed, Keefer and Regan said there are now concerns the studies that set those benchmarks “were scientifically incomplete and flawed.” Those studies did not include ways to determine if the stormwater fees would lead to improvements, they said.
“When many of our local waterways are classified as High Quality or Exceptional Value, meaning they are positively impacting our nation’s water quality, why should our residents be saddled with unjustifiable fees?” they asked.
The lawsuit came more than a decade after the federal government created a nationwide system seeking to eliminate pollution discharge. That required communities to develop Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) and collect fees to manage them.
Keefer and Regan said Harrisburg “set the stage” for the current situation through legislation it passed years ago that allowed some communities to directly impose fees, while other classes of communities must first set up authorities. That leads to concerns whether the fees are uniform and reasonable.
In addition, the lawmakers are concerned about the impact the fees have on residents as they not only must pay for their own fees but also get impacted as schools, churches and businesses must pay them too.
(The Center Square) –