About this blog

My name is Bill Hirt and I'm a candidate to be a Representative from the 48th district in the Washington State legislature. My candidacy stems from concern the legislature is not properly overseeing the WSDOT and Sound Transit East Link light rail program. I believe East Link will be a disaster for the entire eastside. ST will spend 5-6 billion on a transportation project that will increase, not decrease cross-lake congestion, violates federal environmental laws, devastates a beautiful part of residential Bellevue, creates havoc in Bellevue's central business district, and does absolutely nothing to alleviate congestion on 1-90 and 405. The only winners with East Link are the Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington and their labor unions.

This blog is an attempt to get more public awareness of these concerns. Many of the articles are from 3 years of failed efforts to persuade the Bellevue City Council, King County Council, east side legislators, media, and other organizations to stop this debacle. I have no illusions about being elected. My hope is voters from throughout the east side will read of my candidacy and visit this Web site. If they don't find them persuasive I know at least I tried.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sound Transit Funding Problems

(Sound Transit's 2016 Propose Budget prompted the following post.) 

Sound Transit Funding Problems
Sound Transit’s 2016 Proposed Budget included news they had issued $1 billion in new bonds in 2015.   They netted $600 million in new funds from the sale after paying off earlier bonds.  Their 2015 budget proposal had not included their intentions to do so suggesting the decision to obtain additional funds by increasing bond indebtedness in August was more recent. 

The bond sale included fixed-rate bonds paying 3.88% and approximately $150 million in variable rate bonds.  Thus the bonds will require nearly $40M annually just to pay the interest.  (The 3.88% interest seemed rather lucrative for presumably tax-free municipal bonds.)  No mention was made as to when the $1B bonds would be redeemed.  The 2015 budget also didn’t include ST plans for obtaining additional funding via a $1.3B January loan.  That loan will require ST pay nearly $50M annually until 2058.

I don’t recall seeing anything in the Times about ST increasing their bond indebtedness and they chose to put the news “Sound Transit takes out loan” in “Around the Northwest” on page B2, next to the obituaries on a Sunday paper.  ST had earlier indicated they would need to borrow $6.6B more by 2023 unless they obtained some additional funding to finish the Prop 1 extensions.  Presumably the $600M netted from the bond sale is just the initial installment.

ST claims their ST3 package they’ll be asking voters to approve next fall are for extensions beyond Prop 1.  The reality is they will likely need the $1B annually from ST3 approval, beginning in 2017, to pay for Prop 1 extensions.  Voter rejection of ST3 would require they either borrow or issue new bonds to obtain the $1B annually for the next 6 years.  My guess is neither would be attractive to the financial market.  

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