City Council News Recap | January 19, 2021
Posted on 01/27/2021

The Newcastle City Council roundups offer a digest of notable items for those who can't make it to the regular meetings. View the meeting agenda packet here and the meeting video is posted here. View past City Council roundups at

The Newcastle City Council is exploring an opportunity that would generate revenue for street and sidewalk improvements in our community. The establishment of a Transportation Benefit District (TBD) would allow the City to collect funds for transportation enhancements through vehicle licensing fees.

State law authorizes cities to form TBDs, which function as independent taxing districts. The most common TBD funding source is vehicle licensing fees. TBDs can establish an initial annual $20 fee per vehicle. They could choose to increase that fee to $40, but only after that fee has been in effect for at least two years. It could go up to $50, but only after the $40 fee has been in place for at least two years. Any fees above $50 would require voter approval. 

City staff estimates a $20 license fee would generate about $185,000. The funds must be used to preserve and maintain transportation infrastructure, improve public safety, and implement projects identified in the City’s Transportation Improvement Program. That would allow the city to invest in new or existing projects to enhance streets and sidewalks. The revenue would also contribute to the maintenance of critical transportation infrastructure, including costs for snow plowing and street sweeping.

For now, the City Council is simply approaching the question of whether or not to form a TBD. That must come before any decision to establish fees or taxes. During the January 19 meeting, the City Council indicated they wanted to hear from the community before moving forward, so they’ve scheduled a February 2 public hearing to collect feedback. Learn how to participate here.

To be clear, the matter before the Council is whether or not to establish a TBD. Creation of such a district DOES NOT necessarily impose a fee or tax. It simply gives the City the option to do so. 


- The City Council also approved an ordinance updating international building codes. The general community should not notice any impact as a result of the code adoption. The Washington State Energy Code has been changed significantly and energy provisions have been increased to provide more building envelope insulation and overall building performance. Learn more here.

- You can read City Manager Rob Wyman’s report here. City Manager Wyman delivers the report at each meeting and it includes valuable City news updates.

- The Council met with the volunteer Planning Commission to discuss its 2021 Work Plan, which includes tackling a food truck ordinance, exploring regulations surrounding boutique hotels and more.

- Mayor Newing provided the latest COVID-19 updates and encouraged the community to go to to determine current eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. She also mentioned that she’s participated in several community outreach initiatives. She’s worked with Eagle Scouts, supported a high-school student’s project and more.

The Newcastle City Council wants to hear from you! Members of the public are invited to share thoughts during public hearings or two open public comment periods at meetings. In accordance with public health orders, meetings of the City Council currently occur virtually on the first and third Tuesdays of each month starting at 6 p.m., unless otherwise noted. You can email your thoughts to Councilmembers at [email protected].

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