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Pennsylvania House Moves to Compel State Payment of Municipal Stormwater Fees, Affecting Local Budgets and Property Owners

(photo: The Morning Call)

Pennsylvania House advances a bill mandating the state to pay municipal stormwater fees.

Pennsylvania House Advances Bill to Compel State to Pay Municipal Stormwater Fees

A Pennsylvania House panel has advanced a bill requiring the state government to pay municipal stormwater fees, addressing the state’s refusal that has cost local governments millions. Municipal officials argue stormwater fees should apply to all landowners to share runoff and pollution mitigation costs. The bill, passed by the Local Government Committee, enforces this principle, according to the report of Audacy.

State Representative Justin Fleming highlighted municipalities’ financial strains due to water quality regulations, with limited revenue sources for infrastructure projects. Stormwater fees are typically based on impervious surfaces like buildings and pavements, costing homeowners around $120 annually. Farmers and large property owners oppose this model, fearing hefty costs.

State Representative Brett Miller was the sole Republican supporting the bill with other Republicans concerned about its impact on state finances. Capital Region Water loses nearly $387,000 annually due to the state’s refusal, leading to an outstanding balance of over $1.4 million. Marc Kurowski, chair of Capital Region Water’s board criticized the state’s contradictory stance on stormwater management mandates.

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(photo: WPXI)

Implications for Municipalities and Property Owners

An appeal to the state Supreme Court could affect municipalities with stormwater fees, following West Chester University’s case last year. Various groups have filed briefs warning that upholding the ruling would strain local governments, possibly leading to higher property taxes. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation urges the state Supreme Court to overturn the ruling, emphasizing the importance of state contributions to local stormwater programs for clean water and residents’ well-being.

Pennsylvania’s stormwater fee debate pits municipalities needing funds against property owners, especially farmers and large landholders, worried about costs. The state’s refusal to pay fees adds strain on local governments like Capital Region Water. The state Supreme Court’s decision will either worsen local budgets or affirm shared stormwater management responsibility, impacting public health and environmental sustainability statewide.

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