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November 19, 2012
On September 20, 2010, the Seattle City Council passed Ordinance 123397, creating a Transportation Benefit District in the City of Seattle, known as the Seattle Transportation Benefit District ("STBD"). The STBD Governing Board is comprised of all Seattle City Councilmembers. Upon establishing the STBD, a $20 annual vehicle license fee was implemented and enacted in May 2011. The 2011 STBD budget for spending these revenues can be found here.
In September 2010, the City Council established a Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III (CTAC III) by Seattle City Council Resolution 31240. CTAC III was charged with providing recommendations on the spending of the $20 vehicle licensing fee, while also undertaking a comprehensive review of the Seattle Department of Transportation's (SDOT) finances and the City’s long-term transportation funding needs. CTAC III’s recommendation for prioritizing current STBD revenues can be found here.
CTAC-III has also recommended a transportation funding package to put before voters in 2011 or 2012. The City Council, acting in its capacity as the Governing Board for the STBD, is currently considering the CTAC proposal and whether to place the full proposal or a subset on the November 2011 General Election ballot for voter consideration.
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What is a Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD)?
In 1987, the State Legislature created Transportation Benefit Districts (TBDs) as an option for local governments to fund transportation improvements. Chapter 36.73 of the Revised Code of Washington provides for the establishment of TBD by cities and counties to levy and impose various taxes and fees to generate revenues to support transportation improvements within the district. A TBD is a quasi-municipal corporation and independent taxing district created for the sole purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements within the district.
In 2005 and 2007, the Legislature amended the TBD statute to expand its uses and revenue authority, including the ability to authorize a $20 annual vehicle license fee (VLF), and up to an additional $80 of VLF, if approved by voters within the district.
The state legislature provided local governments with these tools because inflation has eroded the local share of gas tax and a series of statewide ballot initiatives passed over the last 12 years have eliminated other traditional sources of funding for local transportation needs.