Snohomish County creating a Transporatation Benefit District

So this last week it had come to my attention that Snohomish County wanted to create a transportation benefit district which is basically a non-elected board that can “increase revenue” within the district for whatever transportation projects they deem “necessary”.   I looked at the list and while there are important projects it doesn’t make sense to me that this is the way to do it.  Creating a taxing authority outside the purvey of constituents seems a bit shady because of course they can create new taxes and other fees without any oversight from the public.  I wrote the following letter to council voicing my opinion.  We’ll see if it matters.

To Whom it May Concern,

I am not able to attend the public hearing because I have to work, but I wanted to make my thoughts known about establishing a transportation benefit district.  It is pretty simple, I am against establishing this district.  The purpose is a good one on the surface, but the method is quite frankly underhanded and absolutely skirts around the idea of a transparent government.  The very fact that the summary states that “A transportation benefit district is a quasi-municipal corporation and an independent taxing authority” is a major red flag.  The summary mentions the $20 starting fee and states that it can raise it to $100 dollars with a vote.  What it doesn’t say in the summary is that the state law authorizing TBDs allows much more than that, including the levying of property taxes.  That is way too much power for a board that is not elected and has no responsibility to the constituents of this county.
I would also point out that when council reached out to cities within the county there was a large percentage of incorporated populations that did not want to participate in the district.  This should also be a red flag as to the desire of constituents to be put under yet another taxing district.  I realize that as of last year I’m no longer in unincorporated Snohomish County and so would be technically not affected by this district, I still feel I must speak up.  That is because creating the district for the unincorporated parts of the county provides a stepping stone for eventually pulling in everyone in the county, for the benefit of the people of course.  It is my feeling that it is best to just not start down that road.
I thank you for your time,
Michael Turner

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