Sound Transit takes wait-and-see approach on possible cuts

Agency will wait for court ruling on initiative which would limit funding
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SEATTLE — Sound Transit is holding off on any cuts to projects or service that might result from passage of a recent state initiative, with the transit agency’s board option to wait until courts decide on the constitutionality of the new law.

Initiative 976, which passed Nov. 5, would limit auto registration fees to $30. [See “Seattle, transit agency could sue over initiative which would cut funding source,” Trains News Wire, Nov. 7, 2019.] If upheld, it could reduce revenue for Sound Transit by $7.2 billion through 2041, King 5 TV reports. Seattle and surrounding King County are among those suing to block the law — a hearing is set for Tuesday — but Sound Transit elected not to join the suit, the Seattle Times reports, and will continue to collect its tax that is part of the registration fee for vehicle owners in its area.

Sound Transit’s chief counsel, Desmond Brown, said the agency could continue to collect the tax because the initiative didn’t set a deadline to pay off some $2.3 billion in existing bond debt. Case law indicates the state can’t force a local agency like Sound Transit to go deeper into debt to pay off bondholders early, he said.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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