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'Flush tax' meeting scheduled

August 20, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

State environmental officials on Tuesday plan to discuss with local governments the "flush tax" and procedures to collect the fee, which will be charged to sewer customers and septic tank users beginning in 2005.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will hold the meeting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday at Hagerstown Community College's Advanced Technology Center.

Jerry Warner of the MDE said the meeting will be open to the public.

A $2.50 monthly fee, called the Bay Restoration Fund fee, will be charged beginning Jan. 1, 2005, to all residences receiving sewer service.

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A monthly fee of the same amount, or $30 a year, will be charged to well and septic/holding tank users beginning Oct. 1, 2005.

Known as the "flush tax," the fee was approved by lawmakers this year.

The money generated by the Bay Restoration Fund fee will be used to upgrade wastewater treatment plants and septic systems in Maryland to reduce the amount of nutrients released from those plants that eventually end up in the Chesapeake Bay.

The nutrients, mainly phosphorus and nitrogen, negatively affect the water quality of the bay, according to the MDE.

The state expects the charge will generate $65 million a year from sewer customers and $12.6 million a year from septic/holding tank users, according to the MDE.

Betsy Martin, who is clerk, treasurer and manager for the Town of Smithsburg, said she and Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers plan to attend the meeting.

Martin said she doesn't have any specific concerns about the fee. She said she's going just to see what's discussed.

"It's pretty much a done deal," Martin said of the fee.

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