Today we continue our Conversation with the Candidates series with guest Allan Kittleman, county executive of Howard County, elected to that position in 2014, and also discuss the future of Old Ellicott City. On July 30, 2016, Old Ellicott City was ravaged by what was called at the time a once-in-1,000-years flood. The historic downtown was largely rebuilt. And less than two years later, on May 27 of this year, another deadly flood struck Old Ellicott City -- perhaps even worse than the 2016 flood. A state of emergency for the historic downtown is still in effect.
In May of 2015, a year before the first Ellicott City Flood, Gov. Larry Hogan made good on a campaign promise to repeal the law that required nine counties to charge residents and businesses a Stormwater Remediation Fee, to create a dedicated source of funding for stormwater projects. Mr. Hogan and opponents of the law referred to it as a “rain tax.”
Allan Kittleman was a vocal supporter of repealing the law. A year later, a few months before the first flood, Mr. Kittleman proposed a reduction and the eventual repeal of the Stormwater Remediation Fee in Howard County, a proposal that was rejected by the County Council. Nine days ago, Howard County residents received tax bills that included fees ranging from $15 to $90, depending on the amount of impervious surfaces they have on their property.
But even with revenue dedicated to fixing the kind of problems that contributed to the severity of these last two floods, questions remain about whether or not any amount of stormwater remediation can save Old Ellicott City if another flood happens.
County Executive Kittleman is a Republican in a county where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about 2:1. He is running for reelection. He’ll face Democratic county council member Dr. Calvin Ball in November. Whoever wins that race will work with a five member county council that will be entirely new. In the primary last month, a newcomer to the political scene, Liz Walsh, beat first-term incumbent Councilman Jon Weinstein in the primary by just two votes. As of last Friday, Mr. Weinstein, whose district includes Old Ellicott City, was weighing whether or not to ask for a recount.
This program, was live streamed on WYPR's Facebook page, and you can see that video here.