Local Improvement Districts (LIDs)
Creating a Local Improvement District (LID) is a formal process involving the County Board of Commissioners (BOC), County staff and property owners. In general, it involves:
1. Neighborhood Meeting
Neighborhood meetings are organized when there is significant interest in the LID process. The neighborhood meeting is arranged by someone in the neighborhood and the County mails invitations to all adjacent property owners who would benefit from the LID. During this meeting, staff explains the road condition, recent maintenance history and an "order of magnitude" cost estimate for improvements. Staff will also provide detailed information about the LID, Co-Op and Right-of-Way permit options.
Following the meeting, property owners will decide if they want to proceed with the LID. If not, the road will not be eligible for LID consideration for another five years.
A petition and mandatory information sheet will be prepared by the County so residents can gather signatures on a petition supporting road improvements. The information sheet provides a detailed explanation about the proposed improvements, what it means to sign the petition and County contact information for answers to additional questions.
Members of the neighborhood are responsible for acquiring signatures. At least 51 percent of the impacted property owners must sign the petition in order for the district to move forward. Only one signature per property is allowed, even if the property has multiple owners. Also, property owners who own more than one property get only one "vote" -- they can sign the petition only once. They pay, however, according to how many properties they own.
3. District Formation
Once the petition has the required number of valid signatures, approval from the BOC is required. The discussion about a LID formation occurs during a regularly scheduled BOC meeting. The process involves a public hearing on the LID (prior to a regularly scheduled BOC meeting) during which property owners can publicly testify about the proposal. Other elements:
- Feasibility Report: County staff will prepare and present a feasibility report to the BOC during the public hearing. The report will include a detailed analysis of the proposed improvements, including an estimated cost per parcel.
- Cost Distribution: The per parcel costs will be developed and adopted. The most common way, as defined in the LID ordinance (WCC 3.20.180), is for the BOC to assign cost shares to each parcel based on the benefits to each parcel. Properties that benefit more may pay more than properties that benefit less. Those who own multiple properties within the district pay for each one.
After hearing testimony, the BOC votes. If the LID is approved, then all impacted property owners are obligated to pay their share, even if they opposed the LID. The LID assessment becomes a lien on the property. If the property is sold, the balance of the lien transfers to the new owners until the entire obligation is paid.
LID road improvement construction generally occurs in July and August and can take two or more weeks. Once completed, the work is guaranteed by the County for one year. After one year, the road surface will be maintained by Washington County, in accordance with the BOC-adopted Road Maintenance Priority Matrix. Many factors affect the performance of a road surface, and each road is unique.
Following construction, staff will reconcile costs and request that the BOC consider the assessment to the individual parcels. Once assessments have been made, the information is shared with the Department of Assessment and Taxation (A&T), which prepares invoices and collects payments. Payment options include:
- Lump sum: One payment in full.
- Payment plan: Payment over 10 years (nominal interest is charged).
6. Ongoing Maintenance
Benefiting property owners may want to form a Maintenance Local Improvement District (MLID). A MLID is similar to the LID, but instead of a one-time assessment for a specific task (such as paving a gravel road), the MLID is a mechanism to collect revenue on an ongoing/ perpetual basis for maintaining the road surfaces constructed through a LID.
Forming a MLID early on is valuable because it allows for more
frequent road maintenance which preserves the investment made by the LID. County
staff will develop a long-term maintenance strategy, including a spending plan,
which determines annual rates for each property. The MLID revenue is earmarked
for maintenance of a given road and is not available for any other purpose.