We have an issue to vote on this November: To TBD or not to TBD. But what is it and why should I, as voter in Edmonds, care?
The Transportation Benefit District (TBD) was formed in Edmonds on Nov. 18, 2008, by a vote of the Edmonds City Council in response to an opportunity to raise revenues for transportation projects in the city. Under Washington State mandated guidelines, the TBD is allowed to raise license fees by $20/vehicle without voters consent. Any increase above that amount requires approval by voting citizens of the city.
The question before us in the next election is whether or not a $40 increase of TBD fees would be an acceptable way to fund transportation projects in the city of Edmonds. Let me explain why I believe that TBD funding is an excellent option despite my usual aversion to tax and levy increases.
First, the funds raised this way must be utilized for transportation projects. They may not be siphoned off to fund any other budget shortfall in the city. The 2008 ordinance limited the use of the first $20 to maintenance of existing transportation infrastructure. Proposition 1 will provide funding for construction of new transportation projects listed in the 2009 Transportation Element of the Comprehensive Plan. A dedicated form of funding helps City staff secure matching grants and create partnerships that leverage the amount each of us contributes.
Second, there is oversight for transportation expenditures by the TBD board and accountability to the citizens for the way these funds are used. The TBD Board has an annual reporting and review process. The board is assisted in its evaluations by the Citizens Advisory Transportation Committee, a group of volunteers appointed by the mayor to participate in the development of the City’s comprehensive plan. I have personally participated in the development of two of these plans over the last 7 years.
Third, it is a graduated fee, in that households with more vehicles pay more in license fees for the transportation system they utilize.
If you are interested in knowing more about the state of the transportation in the city, you may access the detailed plans, committee meeting notes and attend future meetings. Citizen input is always welcomed. You may also visit the City’s website to learn more about the TBD proposal at www.ci.edmonds.wa.us/transBenefitDist.stm
Neil Tibbott, Co-chair
Citizen Advisory Transportation Committee
Editor’s note: The My Edmonds News poll on this proposal can be found here.