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Sound Transit leaders yesterday informed the agency's board members that some projects should be delayed or canceled in order to preserve tax money to expand its system in the future.
Sound Transit Chief Financial Officer Tracy Butler predicted that Sound Transit could lose $7.8 billion to $12 billion through 2041 depending on the severity of the recession to come, according to the board workshop presentation document.
“We are burning through cash quickly, maybe as soon as next year,” Butler said, The Seattle Times reported.
The COVID-19 pandemic is greatly reducing the revenue Sound Transit relies on to expand its Seattle transit system. As businesses remain closed and people stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus, sales tax revenue critical to funding transit construction has declined rapidly, according to Sound Transit’s website.
Sound Transit could face a 23 percent drop in sales taxes, according to the workshop presentation document.
Through a realignment process, Sound Transit's board is determining which plans and timelines for voter-approved projects will have to change due to lower revenue projections and the absence of alternative revenue.
Based on agency contractual commitments already in place, Sound Transit’s first priority will be to minimize impacts to major projects that are now under construction or under contract, Sound Transit officials said on the agency website. Those projects include light-rail extensions to Northgate, Lynnwood, Bellevue, Redmond, Federal Way and the Tacoma Link Hilltop Extension.
The board's discussion will continue over the summer.