City to set hearing on proposal to assume the powers of its independent TBD

State lawmakers called transportation benefit districts into existence as independent taxing districts solely to build, improve, provide and fund transportation improvements within their boundaries, which must be those of a city.

Each TBD is composed entirely of city council members, but they are in every way separate legal and financial creatures from cities.

In 2011, the city of Auburn created its own TBD.

For years, many of Auburn’s residents said they didn’t even know that the city had one.

But that changed after Dec. 13, 2016, when Auburn’s TBD, taking note of a shortage of money to fund city transportation projects, approved a resolution that green lighted an annual $20 vehicle license fee for qualifying vehicles in the district.

The public outcry was swift and sharp.

On Feb 22, 2017, Auburn’s TBD suspended that resolution, and on Sept. 19, 2017, rescinded it. To date, the board has never imposed any vehicle license fees or collected any fees.

On Monday evening, Public Works Director Ingrid Gaub announced that the city is weighing a 2015 change in state law that allows cities with TBDs to assume their powers, rights and functions as long as the city and the district have the same boundaries, as they do in Auburn.

“It would make the TBD cease to exist as a separate entity, which as we move into next year with potentially new council members, we think that might be a simplification of some of the process,” said Gaub.

At 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4 at Auburn City Hall, the city council expects to set a public hearing date to consider this step. If the city decides to proceed from there, it must pass an ordinance and change the relevant chapter of the city code. There is no requirement that the TBD take formal action to complete the assumption.

Here, Gaub said, is what would change:

• The TBD would cease to exist as a separate legal and financial entity;

• TBD and council meetings would no longer be separate;

• Financial reporting would be incorporated into the city’s annual report; and

• The issuance of debt for projects would be limited to the city’s existing. unused debt capacity, although neither the city nor the TBD has the funding capacity to leverage the full debt capacity that the law allows.

Since the date the legislature permitted cities to create TBDs, Gaub said, 109 cities have done so. Of these, 81 have already assumed their powers and obligations.

On Oct. 21, the city released an Addendum to the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Northeast Auburn/Robertson Properties Special Area Plan. Interested parties may also click on the hyperlink Robertson Properties‎ Final Impact Statement Folder to find previous environmental review documents and information on the original proposal.

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