At their July 17 meeting, the Bellevue City Council formed a Transportation Benefit District. The benefit district can be used to fund the maintenance of transportation infrastructure and ongoing transportation capital programs throughout the city. Staff presented background information on Transportation Benefit Districts, why the city is pursuing a district and the timeline for formation at the June 12, 2023 council meeting.
Initial discussions started during the 2023-24 budget process on forming a Transportation Benefit District to address a budget shortfall for Transportation maintenance that originated during the pandemic with the 2021-22 budget and was carried forward into the 2023-24 budget. Staff have been evaluating the potential of forming a district for several months, including adding Transportation System Maintenance Program to the City’s 2024-2029 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Information on the proposed timeline for forming the district can be seen below.
Transportation Benefit District Formation
- June 12, 2023
- Transportation Benefit District process kick-off
- July 10, 2023
- Public hearing for the formation of the benefit district
- July 17, 2023
- Council adopted an ordinance to form a Transportation Benefit District
- July 24, 2023
- Council adopted public hearing resolution for the assumption of District
- August-September 2023
- Outreach on the benefit district. See the "How to get involved" section below for more information.
- September 11, 2023
- Public hearing for council assumption of benefit district. The public hearing will take place during the regular city council meeting.
- Fall 2023
- Council may decide to take administrative steps to assume the district. Discussions on potential funding and transportation maintenance needs will happen in the future.
How to get involved
There are several ways to learn more about the Transportation Benefit District, ask questions and share your feedback, including webinars, a survey, in-person events and public hearings.
A survey is open now until September 30, 2023. The information collected through the survey will help the City Council understand the priorities of people who live, work and play in Bellevue. It should take about 5-10 minutes to fill out. The questions focus on what areas of maintenance and which capital programs are most important to you.
- July 10 — Public hearing on the formation of the benefit district
- August 9 — Tabling at Bridle Trails Night Out
- August 12 — Tabling at Keep Bellevue Beautiful event in downtown
- August 15 — Webinar #1
- August 24 — Webinar #2
- August 29 — Crossroads Farmers Market
- August 31 — Stakeholder webinar
- September 11 — Public hearing on assumption of the benefit district
- September 20 — Webinar #3 (A pdf version of this presentation is available below under "Background materials)
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is a Transportation Benefit District?
A Transportation Benefit District is an independent taxing district that can be formed by cities and counties in Washington. They can be used for acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements within the area of the district. Projects may also include operations, preservation and maintenance of transportation facilities. Chapter 36.73 RCW contains the rules and regulations for forming and operating the district. Bellevue’s Transportation Benefit District is governed by Bellevue City Council, shares the same boundaries as the city, and any funds raised by the district would be used within the city.
How will the Transportation Benefit District raise money?
State law allows for Transportation Benefit Districts to raise money in several ways. In general, the funding options are either approved by the district's governing body or voter-approved. The governing body of the Transportation Benefit District is the Bellevue City Council, and they will determine the funding mechanism. Council-approved options include a 0.1% sales tax, a vehicle licensing fee, a building construction or land development fee, or a vehicle toll on city streets.
What is the average cost for a household in Bellevue?
A 0.1% sales tax increase would cost the average Bellevue household $20-30 annually. This figure was calculated using the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Surveys for the Seattle metropolitan area. The City’s calculation takes the average household size of 2.4 people and totals all tax-eligible spending before applying the additional 0.1% sales tax onto those expenses, providing an approximate range for the average Bellevue household. A vehicle licensing fee would start at $20 per vehicle per year.
What would the money be used for?
Northeast Spring Boulevard, a new mile-long, multimodal, east-west roadway being constructed in the Spring District, is an example of new infrastructure that will need maintenance funding in the future.
In general, they would be used to restore the Transportation Department’s maintenance budget and fund maintenance for new infrastructure that has been added and will continue to be added to our growing city. For example, in the last four years, the city has added 27 traffic signals, 43 enhanced crosswalks and 150 traffic cameras, and had a 33% increase in crosswalks and roadway markings. If additional money is collected beyond what is required for maintenance, it is proposed to be used to fund ongoing capital programs that have extensive backlogs of work. These programs build new infrastructure throughout the city, including sidewalks in neighborhoods, traffic safety improvements, and more.
How would the money be allocated?
Funds collected through a Transportation Benefit District would be allocated through the regular biennial budget process. Every other year, the City Manager presents a preliminary budget to the City Council for feedback, discussion, consideration and eventual action. More information on the budget process can be found on the city’s Budgets webpage.
Why is this funding needed?
Deferred maintenance has led to a reduction in many maintenance programs, including sidewalk repair and replacement. The current sidewalk repair backlog is over half a million square feet.
The Transportation Department’s maintenance budget was cut by $1.7 million in 2021 and $1.8 million in 2022 to help balance the city’s budget due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reductions were done in maintenance to preserve other programming and staffing. These cuts continued into fiscal year 2023-2024 due to other competing needs throughout the city. In addition, budget has not been allocated for the maintenance of new infrastructure. Concerns about the impacts of continuing to defer maintenance were raised during the 2023-2024 budget process. Forming a Transportation Benefit District was discussed as a potential future solution.
Continuing to defer maintenance and not budgeting for the maintenance of new infrastructure will lead to increased maintenance costs in the future caused by the failure of sidewalk and pavement infrastructure and increased complexity of vegetation management. The rapid growth of our city is also leading to an increasing backlog for our re-occurring capital programs that seek to address safety, accessibility, connectivity and travel reliability.
What is the process for creating a Transportation Benefit District?
There are three main steps to generating new revenue through a Transportation Benefit District. The council must first approve the formation of the district. This is followed by the council assuming responsibility of the district so they can address district business during a regular council meeting. The final step is to authorize the funding of the district.
How will the Transportation Benefit District be kept accountable?
The district must publish an annual report, indicating the status of transportation improvement costs, transportation improvement expenditures, revenues, and construction schedules, to the public and newspapers of record in the district (RCW 36.73.160). More information on this can be found on the Municipal Research and Services Center’s webpage on Transportation Benefit Districts.
- September 20, 2023 Webinar presentation slides (pdf)
- September 11, 2023 City Council agenda item: Public hearing on the city’s proposed assumption of the benefit district.
- July 24, 2023 City Council agenda item: Resolution for the assumption public hearing.
- July 17, 2023 City Council agenda item: Ordinance establishing the Transportation Benefit District and creating a new chapter in the Bellevue City Code, Chapter 4.22.
- July 10, 2023 City Council agenda item: Public hearing on the proposed formation of a Transportation Benefit District.
- June 12, 2023 City Council agenda item: Kick-off Transportation Benefit District process
- Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington (MRSC) webpage on Transportation Benefit Districts.
- This webpage includes a downloadable list of transportation benefit districts in Washington.
- Revised Code of Washington chapter on Transportation Benefit Districts (Chapter 36.73 RCW).