Real estate group opposes proposed Albemarle stormwater utility fee

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- There is some strong opposition to the proposed so-called "rain tax" in Albemarle County, and several groups are encouraging people to take action.

Farmers rallied against the stormwater utility fee in March, saying it would unfairly target them.

Other localities in Virginia, including Charlottesville, have already implemented stormwater fees as part of an effort to improve water quality around the state and in the Chesapeake Bay.

The fee typically charges property owners based on any surfaces that don't soak up water, including things like roofs, driveways, sidewalks and parking lots.

Farmers say with all of their barns and sheds, they would be paying more than people who live near the city and would see few of the benefits.

The Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors is also strongly opposed to the idea and has launched a blitz of advertisements encouraging residents to speak out in opposition to the tax.

Jim Dickerson, a spokesperson with CAAR, said the county could better handle stormwater improvements on a case-by-case basis.

"We feel that it can be done through the general fund," Dickerson said. "If you've got a project that needs fixing, let's go and address that issue. Put it in the general fund, put it in the annual budget, and have it funded that way. When it's done, it's done. You're not still paying that tax on it every year."

Dickerson also said the county plan would rely on outdated property maps that may charge residents for land they don't own.

Rick Randolph, with the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, said the county should adjust the fee to exclude buildings like barns and sheds that are not occupied by people. Randolph is also pushing for an exception for church parking lots.

County leaders have a work session scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the potential fee. But Randolph says they will not be making a vote on it because they have not yet held a public hearing.

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