The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) at the University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
May 21, 2014
On May 13, commissioners from the Town of Oxford, Maryland unanimously passed an ordinance to create a Stormwater Management and Shoreline Protection Fund. Following a public hearing with broad support from community members, Oxford commissioners agreed to a property tax increase with the additional revenue going to the new fund, which will cover stormwater and shoreline planning, capital improvement projects, and maintenance costs.
The creation of the fund comes on the heels of a Stormwater and Flood Management Financing Study, a yearlong project sponsored by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and collaborative effort among the Town of Oxford, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, George, Miles & Buhr, LLC, and Preservation Green.
The chief recommendation from the study was for Oxford to adopt a local stormwater and shoreline protection fee that would raise the revenue necessary to invest in infrastructure such as constructed wetlands or stormwater pumps. Climate-induced sea level rise and Chesapeake Bay water quality and flood-related pollution runoff are also addressed in the study.
“We heard from multiple residents and business owners who told us the risk of flooding is part of the bargain that comes with living in a beautiful coastal town like Oxford,” said Sean Williamson, program manager at the Environmental Finance Center. “Yet there is an overwhelming sense that something more can and should be done to reduce that risk.”
The Environmental Finance Center presented findings and recommendations to the Oxford community, including town commissioners, in September 2013 and the full study was released in December 2013. Oxford community members were engaged throughout the process. While many individuals voiced their opinions on the appropriate technical solutions and the costs associated with flood management, citizens were generally receptive to the final study recommendations, including the creation of a fee to generate much needed capital.
Over the past several months, the commissioners deliberated on the proposed fund while residents and businesses voiced their concerns and support. The commissioners ultimately viewed a proportional tax assessment as more equitable than the initially proposed fee structure. The process came to a conclusion last week with the adoption of the ordinance to create Oxford’s Stormwater Management and Shoreline Protection Fund.
The full Environmental Finance Center report can be found online at: efc.umd.edu/oxford.
A number of partners were integral to completing the Oxford study and facilitating the student projects, including: Oxford town officials; GMB, LLC, an engineering firm; Preservation Green, a landscape architecture firm; and non-profit organizations including the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.