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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.
Who runs the STBD?
The Seattle Transportation Benefit District is governed by a Board, comprised of Seattle City Councilmembers acting ex officio and independently of their elected position, as required by the authorizing state law. The STBD Board is seeking citizen guidance from the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee III (CTAC III) (Seattle City Council Resolution 31240 stated the Council's intent to create an CTAC III).
The Board, with guidance from the established CTAC III, will conduct a comprehensive review of Seattle Department of Transportation's (SDOT) finances and project needs. Ultimately, the vast majority of funding options, other than a vehicle licensing fee, must be approved by the voters.
What other cities have established or are considering a TBD?
Bellingham, Bremerton (not funded), Burien, Covington (proposed), Des Moines, Edmonds, King County (unincorporated county only), Lake Forest Park, Leavenworth, Liberty Lake, Lynnwood, Olympia, Point Roberts, Prosser, Ridgefield, Sequim, Shoreline, Snohomish (not funded), Snoqualmie, Spokane County (proposed), University Place (not funded). Additional TBD information can be found here.
What funding sources are available to TBDs
Without voter approval:
With voter approval:
Why did the STBD implement a $20 VLF without voter approval?
In large part, the legislature authorized the $20 VLF to replace a $15 countywide license fee dedicated to local street funding that had been eliminated by passage of I-776 in 2002.
How is Seattle's TBD spending my $20?
In 2011, the TBD budget spends the revenue on a mix of maintenance and preservation as well as safety and enhancements to Seattle’s existing transportation network. The complete budget breakdown can be found here. CTAC III has recommended that future base revenues be primarily devoted to street maintenance, with a small share dedicated to transit corridor projects and improvements to make our streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The STBD Governing Board will act on this recommendation in conjunction with the City's 2012 budget process.
Is Seattle considering an additional $80 VLF?
CTAC III has proposed a transportation funding package that would be funded by a voter approved VLF of up to $80. CTAC III has presented that proposal to the STBD Governing Board, which is now considering whether to place the proposal on the November 2011 ballot. The CTAC III recommended proposal would devote about 30 percent of the revenue to pavement preservation and safety, about 50 percent of the revenue to transit improvements and local transit access funds, and devote the remaining 20 percent to pedestrian and bicycle safety investments. The STBD board has until August 16 to place a measure on the November ballot. You can find the current schedule for STBD consideration of the measure, or to find out how to express your views in writing or by public testimony, click here.