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Auburn Transportation Benefit District
On November 18, 2019, the Auburn City Council approved Ordinance No. 6739 that approved the assumption of all rights, powers, functions and obligations of the Auburn Transportation Benefit District (TBD) Board to the City Council.  This means that the City Council is responsible for the implementation of the TBD and for the approval of any actions necessary to in act potential funding options as allowed under RCW 36.73 for transportation improvements.

At this time, no funding options allowed under the TBD have been implemented. 


Past History of the District:
The Auburn City Council passed Ordinance No. 6377 on September 19, 2011 that established the Auburn Transportation Benefit District. A transportation benefit district is a quasi-municipal corporation and independent taxing district created for the sole purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements for arterial streets within the district. The geographic boundaries of the Auburn Transportation Benefit District is the municipal limits of the City of Auburn as they currently exist or as they may exist following future annexations.

The Auburn Transportation Benefit District was established based on the Auburn City Council's findings that it was in the public interest to form a Transportation Benefit District to provide adequate levels of funding for transportation improvements that are consistent with existing state, regional and local transportation plans and are necessitated by 'existing or reasonably foreseeable congestion levels, as provided in Chapter 36.73 of the Revised Codes of Washington (RCW). The Auburn City Council further found that it was in the public interest to provide for transportation improvements that improve modal connectivity and that protect the City's long-term investments in its infrastructure; reduce the risk of transportation facility failure; improve safety; continue optimal performance of the infrastructure over time; and avoid more expensive infrastructure replacements in the future.

For more information on the state of Auburn's streets, please visit Street Preservation.

Chapter 3.23 (Transportation Benefit District) of the Auburn City Code, established by Ordinance No. 6377 and amended by Ordinance 6739, addresses how the Auburn Transportation Benefit District is governed, its authority, how it may use any collected funds and how it may be dissolved.

Following its formation, the Auburn Transportation Benefit District Board passed Resolution No. 2012-01 that approved a charter for the District which have assumed by the City Council under Ordinance 6739. The articles of this charter govern the actions and proceedings of the Auburn Transportation Benefit District. The adopted charter specifies that the powers of the District include the authority to:

  • Establish and implement District policies, programs and procedures
  • Borrow money and incur indebtedness
  • Provide for investment of District funds
  • Create Advisory Committees - limited to 7 city residents
  • Other powers consistent with State law
 On December 13, 2016, the Auburn Transportation Benefit District Board approved Resolution No. 2016-01 that approved an annual vehicle license fee of $20.00 for qualifying vehicles in the District. On February 22, 2017, the Board suspended Resolution No. 2016-01 and on September 19, 2017, the Board rescinded it. Therefore, no vehicle license fees were put into effect and no fees have been collected. 

City Staff Contact

Annual Reports

Following the assumption of the TBD in November of 2019 under Ordinance 6739, annual reports became part of the City’s Fiscal reports that can be found under Fiscal Reports.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Transportation Benefit District (TBD)?

A TBD is a quasi-municipal corporation and independent taxing district created for the sole purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements within the district.

What is the authority for establishing a Transportation Benefit District (TBD)?

In 1987, the Washington State Legislature created Transportation Benefit Districts (TBD) as an option for local governments to fund transportation improvements. Chapter 36.73 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) provides for the establishment of TBD by cities and counties to levy and impose various taxes and fees to generate revenues to support transportation improvements within the district. A TBD is a quasi-municipal corporation and independent taxing district created for the sole purpose of acquiring, constructing, improving, providing, and funding transportation improvements within the district. In 2005 and 2007, the Legislature amended the TBD statute to expand its uses and revenue authority, including the ability to authorize a $20 annual vehicle license fee (VLF), and up to an additional $80 of VLF, if approved by voters within the district. The state legislature provided local governments with these tools because inflation has eroded the local share of gas tax and a series of statewide ballot initiatives passed over the last 12 years have eliminated other traditional sources of funding for local transportation needs.

In 2015, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that allowed transportation benefit districts to impose vehicle license fees greater than $20.00 up to a maximum of $50.00, but only under the following circumstances:

  • Up to $40.00, but only if a $20.00 fee has been in effect for at least 24 months.
  • Up to $50.00, but only if a $40.00 fee has been in effect for at least 24 months. Any non-voted fee higher than $40.00 is subject to potential referendum, as provided in RCW 36.73.065(6).

Any license fees over these amounts, up to $100.00, must be approved by a simple majority of voters.

Who may create a TBD?

The legislative authority of a county or city may create a TBD by ordinance following the procedures set forth in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 36.73.

Who runs the TBD?

The Auburn City Council.

How many TBDs exist in Washington State?

There are currently over 100 TBDs throughout Washington State. More information about TBDs can be found on the Municipal Research Services Center.

What fees or taxes can be used by a TBD for transportation improvements?

The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 36.73 provided the statutory authority for the creation of Transportation Benefit Districts some 20 years ago; however, in 2007, an amendment to the statute allowed city or county governments to create local TBDs and authorized jurisdictions to impose a local vehicle registration fee, up to $20.00, without a public vote. Other funding mechanisms for the TBD can be approved through a public vote, including an additional property tax levy, a 0.2% sales & use tax, a local option fuel tax or a larger vehicle license tab fee. In 2015, the legislature provided that a City can assume the rights, powers, functions and obligations of an existing TBD as long as the boundaries of the TBD are contiguous with the boundaries of the City.  

Without voter approval:

  • Annual vehicle fee up to $20.00. This fee is collected at the time of vehicle renewal and cannot be used to fund passenger-only ferry service improvements. This amount can be increased up to $50.00 total but only after a $20.00 fee has been in place for 24 months and a subsequent $40.00 fee has been in place for an additional 24 months.
  • Transportation impact fees on commercial and industrial buildings. Residential buildings are excluded. In addition, a county or city must provide a credit for a commercial or industrial transportation impact if the respective county or city has already imposed a transportation impact fee.

With voter approval:

  • Property taxes: a one-year excess levy or an excess levy for capital purposes;
  • Up to 0.2 percent sales and use tax;
  • Up to $100.00 total annual vehicle fee per vehicle registered in the district; and
  • Vehicle tolls.

If one is assessed, who collects the $20.00 vehicle license fee for the Auburn Transportation Benefit District?

An agreement between the City and the Washington State Department of Licensing is required and would provide that the $20.00 vehicle license fee is assessed as part of the State's vehicle license process. For more information, please view the Washington State Department of Licensing Transportation Benefit District website. Auburn has not assessed a vehicle license fee.

Can I pay a lower vehicle license fee based on my income level?

The Washington State Legislature previously passed legislation (RCW 36.73.067 Vehicle fee rebate program - Low-income individuals - Report to legislature) that authorizes a transportation benefit district that includes a City with a population of 500,000 people or more (please note that this only applies to Seattle at this time) to offer a 40 percent rebate of the actual fee, tax or toll paid by low-income individuals.

What vehicles are subject to the vehicle license fee?

  • Passenger vehicles
  • Trucks that weigh 6,000 pounds or less
  • Motorcycles
  • Commercial passenger vehicles and trucks that weigh 6,000 pounds or less
  • Combination trucks that weigh 6,000 pounds or less
  • Tow trucks
  • House moving dollies
  • Trucks used exclusively for hauling logs that weigh 6,000 pounds or less
  • Taxicabs
  • For-hire or stage vehicles with 6 seats or less
  • For-hire or stage vehicles with 7 or more seats that weigh 6,000 pounds or less
  • Private use trailers over 2,000 pounds
  • Motorcycle trailers
  • Travel trailers
  • Fixed load vehicles that weigh 6,000 pounds or less
  • Mobile homes licensed as vehicles

What vehicles are exempt from the vehicle license fee?

Some vehicles are exempt from the TBD fee. The following exemptions are currently in effect, according to state law:

  • All farm vehicles
  • Campers
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Snowmobiles
  • Mopeds
  • Personal use trailers with a single axle and less than 2,000 pounds scale weight
  • Commercial trailers
  • Combination trailers
  • Trailers used exclusively for hauling logs
  • Horseless carriage, collector, or restored-plate vehicles
  • Converter gear
  • Government vehicles
  • Private school vehicles
  • Vehicles properly registered to disabled American veterans