City Council approves ordinance to place transportation funding measure on November ballot

Sales tax continuation would fund priority transportation improvements throughout Bellingham

Jul 13, 2020 - by Janice Keller, Communications Director

On Monday, July 6, the Bellingham City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to ask voters in the November General Election to continue an existing two-tenths of one percent sales tax to fund transportation improvements for another ten years.

The existing sales tax is set to expire in early 2021 if not renewed. Voters in 2010 approved the creation of a special taxing district – the Transportation Benefit District – ​to provide dedicated funding for priority transportation needs in Bellingham.

Ten years of dedicating a small percentage of sales tax exclusively to transportation improvement projects has generated approximately $5 million in revenue each year into the Bellingham Transportation Fund. This revenue fund has supported significant transportation network improvements, including 9 miles of improved sidewalks, 52 miles of additional bike lanes and other bike facilities, 40 improved pedestrian crossings and 46 miles of resurfaced streets. The majority of this work is performed by local contractors and helps support the local economy. The Transportation Fund also has supported five years of Sunday service by the Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA).​ 

Voters in the November 2020 General Election will be asked to continue a Transportation Fund sales tax for the next ten years to support a wide range projects, including:

  • Preservation, restoration and replacement of pavement on City streets.
  • Non-motorized transportation improvements listed in bicycle and pedestrian master plans, including projects connecting neighborhoods to schools and parks throughout the City.
  • Transportation measures listed in the City’s Climate Action Plan and projects that support WTA’s transit system serving Bellingham. Projects will be wide ranging and may include accessible pathways to transit stops, electric-powered WTA buses, electric vehicle charging stations throughout the City, group purchase of e-bikes and electric cars, and more.

The ordinance approved by the City Council on July 6 continues the 0.2% sales tax, or two-tenths of one percent, which is 20 cents on each $100 spent within Bellingham City limits. The ordinance also includes the council’s intention to allocate future funding between arterial resurfacing (40%), non-motorized improvements (40%) and Climate Action Plan and WTA Transit Plan support (20%), all of which are approved annually by Council through a public process.

Call for Voter’s Guide statements

The City is actively seeking volunteers to provide statements to accompany the November General Election ballot measure in the Voter’s Guide. Each ballot measure provides supporting ‘for’ and ‘against’ statements to help voters make informed decisions. If you or someone you know are interested in applying to provide one of these statements, please email AskPW@cob.org with a brief description of your interest and why you are qualified to provide the statement.

More information

Bellingham Transportation Fund Storymap

Bellingham City Council Committee of the Whole meeting materials for July 6

​​​Staff Report

Video of staff presentation and​ Council discussion


Media Contact

​Eric Johnston, Director
Public Works
(360) 778-7710 or ecjohnston@cob.org

​Janice Keller, Communications Director
Mayor’s Office
(360) 778-8100 or jkeller@cob.org


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