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Federal cuts to Sound Transit would mean Puget Sound taxpayers would have to ‘pay for shortfall’

SEATTLE — President Donald Trump’s budget proposal means Sound Transit could lose billions in federal funding.

“It’s a major policy change and somewhat an unprecedented one,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said Friday.

Trump's proposal is a "kick in the gut," he said.

“We are hoping Congress will step in and reverse these cuts,” Rogoff said.

If they don’t, Puget Sound taxpayers will be forced to pay up.

“We are determined to build the projects, we are required to build the projects the voters approved,” Rogoff said.

The CEO says scrapping light rail expansion is not an option, but projects already in the pipeline such as Lynnwood and Federal Way's light rail expansions will be delayed.

Sound Transit was expecting $1.174 billion to pay for Lynnwood’s light rail and $500 million for Federal Way’s portion. Overall, they were expecting nearly $8 billion for light rail expansion over 25 years.

And what happens if there's a 10% cut in federal funds?

“Puget Sound taxpayers will have to pay for the shortfall,” Rogoff said.

That disclosure couldn’t have come at worse time with so many in King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties already upset over high car tabs to pay for ST3.

“My wife and I pay those car tabs like everybody else,” Rogoff said.

But the question is could it go up even more with the loss of federal funding.

“None of the taxes will adjust upwards,” Rogoff said.

But taxes would extend longer until the projects are done. So longer the delay, the worse it is for taxpayers.

But some say the light rail expansion is still worth it while others told Q13 News on Friday the financial cost is too painful to bear.

“I am shocked it's like one thing after another. We have to pay for this, we are paying for that, when are we ever going to get a break?” Federal Way resident Tangia Thomas said.

“We understand the upset of the taxpayers on this. We just need to make sure we can deliver the project voters approved,” Rogoff said.