Report: Tax and fee increases for water cleanup in Vermont

Monday December 17, 2012

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont would have to increase spending by $156 million a year to clean up stormwater, farm and sewage pollution that threaten Lake Champlain and other waterways, a draft report by the state Agency of Natural Resources says .

The report released Friday lists a dozen tax and fee increases that the Legislature could enact that would add up to $26 million in revenue.

That leaves a funding gap of $130 million.

The report suggests possible sources of revenue, including a surcharge on the income or property tax, a statewide stormwater fee and new or higher taxes on motor fuels, fertilizer, bottled water containers and "flushable consumer products."

"We obviously can’t do it all," said Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz of the work listed in the report. She said the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin is not recommending any spending level or any particular tax or fee.

Shumlin has said he will not support an increase in broad-based taxes in 2013.

The report outlines the scope of Vermont’s water quality challenge statewide for the first time, which will give lawmakers information needed to make spending decisions, Markowitz said.

"We look forward to a policy conversation with the Legislature about the nature of the problem, the possible solutions and ways we might approach those solutions," she said.

It’s a lot of money, said Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears, "but it is not the only thing that is going to get us there. It is a pleasure for me to live in a state where people take seriously the need to live more lightly on the landscape


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