Rules and Regs: Congressman Introduces Bill to End Septic Grant Tax

Also in this month’s regulations update, Island County, Washington, hikes its septage dumping rates by 80%

Rules and Regs: Congressman Introduces Bill to End Septic Grant Tax

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A New York representative has introduced a bill in Congress to remove the federal tax on grants that help people repair or upgrade their onsite wastewater systems.

Rep. Thomas Suozzi — whose 3rd District covers the northwestern section of Long Island — introduced HR 7280 in mid-June. The bill would allow people to exclude from taxable income any subsidy from a state or local government for “any waste management measure” at their home, say news reports. The bill would also allow people to amend their 2020 tax returns for grants received in 2019.

One Suffolk County resident who talked to a local newspaper says her tax bill would increase by thousands of dollars because she received a $10,000 county grant and a $15,000 rebate from her town government, and both were deemed taxable income. More than 1,300 county homeowners have enrolled in the program. 

In order to reduce water pollution along its Atlantic Ocean shore, the county for several years has pursued an extensive program to replace more than 300,000 cesspools. Onsite system upgrade grants have been part of that, as have ordinances requiring nitrogen-reducing systems.

The opinion on taxation of grants came from the IRS and was issued last year at the request of John Kennedy, county comptroller. He sent out tax forms to people who received the grants, and at the time, he was running for county executive against Steve Bellone, who won reelection and has been a driving force behind the water pollution control program.

Suozzi trained as CPA and attorney and sits on the Ways and Means Committee that deals with taxation and the federal budget. The two other New York representatives co-sponsoring his bill are Lee Zeldin and Peter King.


Two New York Banks Pledge $2.5 Million in Loans for Onsite Upgrades

Two regional banks have pledged $2.5 million in no- or low-interest loans to help homeowners and business around Lake George, New York, with onsite system upgrades.

Adirondack Trust Co. of Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls National Bank say their loan program would be coordinated through the FUND for Lake George, a nonprofit formed to protect the quality of the lake, reports The Daily Gazette of Schenectady. 

The 32-mile-long lake is in the southeastern corner of New York State’s Adirondack Park and spans 6 million acres. It is protected for its recreational and ecological assets and is a major component of the state’s tourism economy. Yet in the past dozen years, Lake George and other bodies of water in the area have suffered increasing water-quality problems. There are about 6,000 private onsite systems around the lake, and one study of a group of those found at least one-third were beyond their life spans, with another third of unknown age. 


Pike County, Missouri, Revises Onsite Ordinance

Pike County, Missouri, recently revised its onsite ordinance with two major changes.

First, properties of any size must now have a wastewater system permit and inspection from the county Health Department. Previously, only commercial properties and properties of less than 3 acres were required to have inspections and permits.

Second, the bond for installers has been increased from $10,000 to $20,000. This change was made because of the cost of advanced treatment units, reports the Webster County Citizen. Pike County is on the Mississippi River, about 100 miles northwest of St. Louis. 


Montana Residents Object to Public Hearing Due to Pandemic Safety

A public hearing on revisions to the Ravalli County, Montana, onsite code didn’t go very far when some citizens objected to being in a meeting that didn’t match safety guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic. On the agenda was a first reading of proposed changes to the 10-year-old rules.

The meeting room was beyond capacity under state pandemic guidelines, but other attendees say the guidelines inhibited their right of freedom of assembly. After trying to find some way to accommodate all the people, Jeff Burrows, chair of the health board, said the matter would be returned to the working group that has been reviewing the code for about two years.

Burrows says most public comments refer to only a couple of sections of the proposed new code, but he adds that some people also don’t understand the proposed changes, reports the Ravalli Republic.

In part, he says, code changes were driven by homeowners who wanted a replacement system and discovered their permits didn’t include changes such as rental homes or added bedrooms. When county officials checked real estate listings against permits, there were some great discrepancies between what was permitted and what was in place. Ravalli County is in western Montana near Missoula. 


Island County, Washington, Hikes Septage Dumping Rates 80%

On July 31, Island County, Washington, will increase the cost for septage dumped at its treatment facility by 80%. The change is due to the increased cost of disposing of biosolids, reports the Whidbey News-Times. Each gallon of septage will now cost 27.9 cents instead of 15.5 cents. 

The county cannot find a local farmer willing to accept land spreading, so solids must be hauled to Whatcom County, says Bill Oakes, Island County’s Public Works director. Island County is on Whidbey Island, about 53 miles north of Seattle. Whatcom County is another 90 miles north on the Canadian border. 


Minnesota Conservation District Expands Onsite Grant Program

Grant limits have been expanded for the septic replacement program of the Pipestone County (Minnesota) Soil and Water Conservation District. The program aids low-income residents with replacing troubled onsite systems. 

The district is increasing grant amounts to cover 50% of the cost of a new system up to $7,500 for low-income residents and 75% of the cost up to $10,000 for very-low-income residents. 

Grants are funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the county is still spending its 2018 money, reports the Pipestone County Star.



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