A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants the federal government to push back the deadline for stormwater programs because of the financial toll of the coronavirus.
“Residents should not be worried about attempting to pay these increased fees in the current economic situation when so many are now unemployed and struggling,” said state Rep. David Zimmerman, R-East Earl.
Zimmerman introduced a resolution in Harrisburg on May 15 asking Congress and the Trump administration to give a two-year extension for local governments to comply with federal MS4 stormwater rules.
A growing number of Pennsylvania municipalities are enacting fees to fund compliance with federal stormwater plans.
Structured as fees rather than taxes, the assessments apply to all properties — including tax-exempt ones — based on the amount of impervious surface on the parcel.
Proponents point out that all hard surfaces contribute to polluted runoff. But farms, with their long lanes and large barns, often face big fees even though they also maintain lots of rain-absorbing land.
Earlier this year, Zimmerman said he was developing a bill that would exempt farmers from stormwater fees.
The Pennsylvania State Grange supports Zimmerman’s proposal for a two-year delay in stormwater compliance.
Zimmerman’s resolution is largely a symbolic move. Though the Environmental Protection Agency has offered some lenity for noncompliance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not clear that the agency would go as far as Zimmerman wants.