Transportation benefit districts are quasi-municipal corporations with independent authority, including the authority to impose certain taxes and fees – either through a vote of the people or City Council action – for transportation purposes. Formation of transportation benefit districts by cities is governed by RCW 35.21.225 and RCW 36.73.
The Bellingham City Council formed Transportation Benefit District No. 1 on July 10, 2010. Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike originally proposed the City Council create the district to help provide dedicated funding for priority transportation needs within Bellingham. The district's geographic boundaries are consistent with Bellingham city limits. The district is governed by the members of the City Council acting as district board of directors.
Transportation Benefit District No. 1 is funded by a two-tenths of one percent (0.002) sales tax, approved by 58% of Bellingham voters in the November 2010 General Election, to provide dedicated funding for priority transportation needs. Collection of this sales tax begins April 1, 2011 for a term of 10 years. A sales tax increase of two-tenths of one percent (0.002) on $300 of taxable items amounts to 60 cents. The increase is expected to generate up to an estimated $4 million per year to pay or finance costs of transportation improvement projects as outlined in the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). During the 10-year period of the levy, the Board intends to allocate funds from the voter-approved sales and use tax receipts in a manner that is generally equitable among three project categories: arterial resurfacing, transit enhancement, and non-motorized transportation options.
Projects that constitute transportation improvements that may be funded by the District in the Adopted 2015-2020 Transportation Improvement Program (PDF) include:
Non-Motorized projects completed in 2012 include Northwest/Elm/Dupont Bike Lanes ES-0447 and intersection improvements at Northwest and Alderwood avenues, Alabama and St. Paul streets, and Woburn St. at Rimland Dr.. Enhanced pedestrian crossings were completed along Samish Way and the Indian Street Pedestrian and Bicycle safety project was completed.The intersection improvements projects are part of the 2012 Resurfacing Overlay Program. For more information on specific projects visit the Public Works Capital Projects Page.
Transportation Benefit District No. 1 is governed on behalf of District residents by the elected members of the Bellingham City Council, acting independently as the District Board of Directors. The City Council President serves as the chair of the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors follows the same rules and procedures for conducting business as the Bellingham City Council. By ordinance and interlocal agreement, Transportation Benefit District No. 1 receives various administrative services from the City of Bellingham.
The Board of Transportation Benefit District No. 1 meets quarterly, following all Washington Open Public Meetings Act requirements. Meetings are typically filmed and aired on BTV10. For more information, contact the Bellingham City Council Office.