City seeks Transportation Benefit District tax renewal this November

Residents within the City of Sequim decide this November whether or not to keep the Transportation Benefit District, TBD, tax going for another 10 years.

The two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax was voted in place in Nov. 2009 and has brought in more than $5 million for Transportation Improvement Projects since 2010, such as rehabilitating roads, building sidewalks and improving street lighting.

Sequim public works director David Garlington said the TBD, titled City of Sequim Proposition No. 1 on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot, brings in about one-third of the city’s annual funding for street projects.

“(That number) alone shows how incredibly important it is,” Garlington said. “Essentially, these are projects that would not have been done without that funding.”

Garlington said funding for some street projects, such as finishing crosswalks compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act on Blake Avenue near Carrie Blake Community Park, would have come from the city’s general fund if not for the TBD.

“It’s allowed us to go beyond doing basic maintenance and to improve upon our transportation program,” Garlington said.

In March, Sequim city councilors unanimously approved putting the Transportation Benefit District proposal on the ballot for only registered city voters.

While the 10-year TBD doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2019, city staff said they wanted to bring a renewal before voters during an anticipated higher voter turnout in the Nov. 6 General Election and because it would cost less with more items on the ballot.

City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross previously said if the renewal were to fail this year, the city could ask again in 2019 until its deadline expires.

Voters narrowly defeated the TBD in Nov. 2008 on its first attempt with 50.91 percent (1,701) opposed to the tax. One year later, voters approved it 58.15 percent (1,373) yes votes.

If it passes for renewal this November, the sales tax rate of two-tenths of 1 percent would continue through Dec. 31, 2029 without a break in collection going into 2020.

Garlington said he hasn’t heard of any resistance to continuing the tax and no one signed on to write a negative comment for the Clallam County Voter’s Guide against it.

He said some may oppose it simply because they don’t want new taxes.

“My immediate response is that it is a sales tax, but it’s not a new sales tax,” Garlington said.

Funds collected only go towards transportation projects, Garlington said, and city staff estimate about two-thirds of monies collected comes from people living outside of city limits.

The Transportation Benefit District has grown from $314,000 in 2010 to more than $700,000 in 2017. Last year, $561,000 paid for pavement preservation and $100,000 for crack sealing.

Through the years, it has also paid for dozens of projects including an overlaying of River Road and reconstructing pavement on McCurdy Road, North Seventh Avenue and West Prairie Street.

Garlington said cities across the state including Sequim seek legislation to grandfather in Transportation Benefit Districts so that cities don’t need to keep going to voters.

For more information about the Transportation Benefit District, call 360-683-4908 or visit the Sequim Civic Center at 152 W. Cedar St.

Reach Matthew Nash at