The 3/15/15 post urged that legislation allowing Sound Transit to ask voters for an additional $11B from property taxes be contingent on ST demonstrating closing the I-90 Bridge center roadway would not affect outer roadway congestion and explaining how East Link could provide sufficient capacity to meet cross lake transit needs. That’s apparently not going to happen.
However, the legislature does have another opportunity to ensure the additional billions won’t be wasted on a fatally flawed light rail system. Make the legislation contingent on an audit of ST finances for construction and operation of both the Prop 1 extensions and their 2040 plans.
The 11/06/12 post “Faulty Sound Transit Audit” detailed problems with then State Auditor Brian Sontag’s 125-page report and urged a new audit. That hasn’t happened and ST finances have continued to deteriorate. The Prop 1 Central Link extensions have been truncated from Mill Creek to Northgate and from Federal Way to Angle Lake, while East Link has been shortened from Redmond to Overlake. Yet, they’ve already needed a $1.33B loan that will require 50M annually for 48 years to pay off.
It’s clear they’ll need additional revenue since they still have another 8 years of major funding to complete even the truncated Prop I extensions. The audit would require ST detail exactly how and where they intend to spend the new property tax revenue on light rail extensions. The audit would also require ST predict the added fare box revenue and operating expenses with the extensions.
The 1/22/15 post explains why an audit will “likely” conclude the current truncated Prop 1 extensions when completed will require huge subsidies to cover shortfall between operating costs and fare box revenue. Those subsidies would be dwarfed by those required if ST completes the Prop 1 extensions and their 2040 extensions.
The legislators surely have a responsibility to require an audit, if not as part of the property tax enabling legislation, at least have the results available for the public prior to any vote.