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King County Council approves Transportation Benefit District in effort to raise more tax revenue

The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday gave its unanimous approval to the formation of a Transportation Benefit District (TBD), a separate taxing district that has the authority to generate revenue for transit, roads and other transportation projects.

“With formation of a countywide Transportation Benefit District, King County now has a potential tool for funding preservation of Metro Transit service and maintenance of local roads and transportation infrastructure,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips in a county media release. “Without new revenue, King County faces transit service cuts of up to 17 percent and at least a $50 million annual gap for the maintenance of county roads.”

The council formed the TBD in order to place a local transportation funding measure on the April ballot. The proposed measure would generate approximately $130 million annually from two revenue sources: a $60 annual vehicle fee and 0.1% increase in sales tax.

Forty percent of the revenue collected from the transportation district would be used for county road and city street improvements, with allocations to each city and unincorporated King County based on population.

“This is an important step in a process of placing a measure on the ballot, which would allow the public to consider staving off cuts to Metro bus service,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott.

The TBD is similar in structure to the King County Ferry District and King County Flood Control District, with the members of the County Council acting as the TBD board. The TBD will have the authority to acquire, construct, improve, provide and fund transportation improvements identified in the transportation plan of the Puget Sound Regional Council, the county or a city within the county.

“I appreciate the unanimous approval of this critical legislation by my colleagues. It will allow us to ask the voters to make necessary investments in our transit and road systems,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee, and author of the ordinance creating the district. “As we move forward, I am committed to ensuring that the TBD uses the authority granted by law for rebates of vehicle license fees to low-income taxpayers to ensure that any funding measure is as progressive in nature as possible.”

 

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