In a move that was philosophically opposed by a pair of council members, the city of Enumclaw has taken control of the local Transportation Benefit District.
The move may not be noticeable to the general public, as the collection and distribution of money should be unchanged. Also, the people controlling the dollars and cents remain the same.
Transfer of the TBD to city control was opposed by Chance LaFleur and Juanita Carstens, the latter being the most vocal. They objected because the TBD was initially designed to be separate from city control, even though the seven-member City Council made up the TBD board.
The state authorized the creation of Transportation Benefit Districts throughout Washington, each existing as an independent taxing entity. In a more recent development, the state issued the go-ahead for cities to assume control.
That didn’t sit well with Carstens, who felt the council was backtracking on a promise to the public – even if it’s entirely legal.
“I want our constituents to know that when we say something we mean it,” she said, “and by voting yes on this you guys are not taking their likes, wants and desires into consideration.”
She and LaFleur were on the short end of a 5-2 vote. In favor of making the TBD a city function were Steve Cadematori, Anthony Wright, Jan Molinaro, Hoke Overland and Kim Lauk.
Enumclaw’s TBD was formed in May 2013 to provide a mechanism for collecting money; the sole purpose of the TBD funds is to maintain city streets.
Since its inception, the TBD board has taken two steps to generate cash. In 2014, the TBD board established a vehicle license fee of $20, placed on all license renewals in the city. The fee went into effect Sept. 1 of that year and generates well over $200,000 annually.
In 2015, the TBD put a ballot issue before voters, asking for an increase of one-tenth of 1 percent in the local sales tax. Again, the money was earmarked expressly for road maintenance. It was passed in November of that year and went into effect on April 1, 2016. The tax expires with the close of March 2026.
The city’s 2018 budget anticipates the Transportation Benefit District will take in revenues of $240,000 from license fees and $310,000 from the voter-approved sales tax. There’s also a beginning balance of more than $1.3 million, money that has been collected but not spent.
This year brought a major accomplishment in TIB circles, with the completion of a Pavement Preservation Project. In all, parts of 38 streets were improved and 67 curbside access ramps were brought into alignment with the Americans with Disabilities Act.