Will raising the flush tax drain development in Md.?

WASHINGTON – Raising the flush tax in Maryland may become a new pipe line of revenue for the state.

Maryland’s already got a flush tax, it runs about $2.50 a month for sewer customers, and $30 a year for homes on septic systems. The money raised goes to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Citing the continued damage to the watershed, Md. Governor Martin O’Malley told reporters he’d consider doubling or tripling the tax.

O’Malley says it might make sense to make it a progressive tax.

“Right now, there’s a flat flush tax, such that a senior citizen living in the 1600 block of North Avenue pays the same flush fee as a single person living in a giant McMansion.”

Last year, Governor O’Malley also targeted developments where homes are on septic systems. These homes are typically found in rural areas of the state.

“The Governor dropped a bomb last year in his State of the State address where he proposed banning developments of five or more homes on septic systems,” says Michael Harrison, Director of Government Affairs for the Homebuilder’s Association of Maryland. Harrison says such a ban wouldn’t hurt the big national builders, but local, small scale developers who work in rural areas.

“Growth controls don’t stop growth, they just push it somewhere else,” he says.

This year, O’Malley says he’s still trying to curb what he calls ‘these giant septic housing developments. Harrison says builders are supportive of a boost to the flush tax, and have also supported the push for septic systems that reduce nitrogen output.

“We don’t think an outright ban would help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” Harrison says.

Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow Kate and

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