Transportation Benefit District (TBD)

We want to have a conversation with our community about how city services are funded.

The City of Blaine operates under a balanced budget, and has passed all financial and accountability audits by the state. City services (such as police, planning, economic development, the community center, streets, parks, library, and youth programs) are primarily funded by a tax on some utilities, a sales tax, and a property tax levy. You can find a full copy of the City’s 2017 Budget here.

The City has been working with residents and businesses to identify priorities for services and projects as part of a Strategic Economic Initiative completed this year. Learn more about this initiative here.

Like most cities, the demand for services in Blaine is higher than the revenue available to provide them. The City is limited by law to a one percent revenue increase per year on its property tax levy. It also retains less than one percent of the 8.5% sales tax remitted to the state. This is causing the City to look at different ways to fund the services and projects that local residents want.

Long-term, we need to have a conversation with our community about how to fund large projects like a library and cultural center. Short-term, we are focused on maintaining and improving streets, sidewalks and trail connections. Good transportation links are critical to economic development, which attracts and keeps businesses in Blaine, and welcomes people for shopping and tourism – all of which generate revenue for City services local residents want.

The City is considering asking voters to approve a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) for this purpose during the April 25, 2017 Special Election. The TBD would be funded for 10 years through two-tenths of one percent (0.2%) sales tax. This would make Blaine’s total sales tax rate 8.7%, which is the same as the neighboring communities of Bellingham, Lynden and Ferndale. It would generate approximately $200,000 a year for transportation projects and programs, and help the city provide matching funds for grant requests. A list of priority projects can be found here.  

The Blaine community has approved special funding for city services before. Voters approved a 10-year property tax levy for streets in 1996. When the levy expired, the City Council issued bonds for street maintenance and improvements, but bonds costs Blaine taxpayers more due to interest payments. A sales tax increase means that visitors to Blaine from Canada and other communities will pay for the city services they use, such as streets and trails.

We would like to know what our community thinks about this idea. Please let us know your thoughts about the proposal at TBD@cityofblaine.com. Letters may also be sent to Ravyn Whitewolf, Public Works Director, 1200 Yew Avenue, Blaine, WA 98230. All communication is encouraged and becomes a matter of public record. Thank you!

Media   

Sales tax measure set for inclusion on April ballot
The Northern Light - February 16, 2017
   
Sales tax increase to be on the April ballot 
Bellingham Herald - February 15, 2017
   
Letters to the Editor February 9-15
The Northern Light - February 15, 2017
  
Blaine City Council passes resolution for Transportation Benefit District funding
Press Release - February 14, 2017
  
Blaine City Council votes to form Transportation Benefit District 
The Northern Light – January 26, 2017

Blaine holds public hearings on Transportation Benefit District 
Press Release  - January 9, 2017

Blaine residents identify priorities for services 
Press Release - December 19, 2016
 

TBD FAQ's - What's on my ballot?

Whatcom County - City of Blaine Special Election

TBD Documents

  • Resolution 1704-17 - Providing for a ballot proposition to be submitted to the qualified electors of the City on April 25, 2017, to impose a two-tenths of one percent (0.002) sales and use tax within the City (formerly the Blaine Transportation Benefit District) for a period of ten years to fund specified transportation improvements, and provide direction to prepare an annual report pursuant to RCW 36.73.160.
  • Ordinance 17-2899 - Assuming the rights, powers, functions and obligations to the City of Blaine Transportation Benefit District by the City of Blaine as allowed by RCW 36.74.
  • Ordinance 17-2896 - Specifying the boundaries for the TBD that will coincide with the City of Blaine, and specifying the projects to be funded by the TBD.
  • Resolution 1703-17 - Setting a public hearing to consider the assumption of the Blaine TBD by the City of Blaine pursuant to RCW 36.74.
  • Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) - Amendment and Project list.
  • Potential street and trail projects - Included in the Strategic Economic Initiative (SEI) report.