King County Council Member Larry Phillips sent a letter to Governor Chris Gregoire yesterday saying that his participation in a committee to monitor the deep-bore tunnel project was contingent on the county being exempt from paying any overruns.
As I mentioned a few minutes ago, today is the first meeting of the boringly-named-but-controversial Alaskan Way Viaduct Program Oversight Committee (AWVPOC) that pulls together elected leaders from around the state to monitor the deep-bore tunnel project. The elephant in the room is a question of who will pay for expenses that exceed the tunnel budget. The state passed a law to say it won't. Now Phillips, chair of the county's transportation committee, is taking the same position:
My participation in the AWVPOC is conditional on King County being held harmless by the state of Washington and any other participating jurisdiction for any cost overruns associated with the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project for which King County is not directly responsible as a contracting entity.
In his letter (.pdf), Phillips also notes that the state has hampered the county's revenue to help pay for transportation improvements:
The transit improvements part of the agreement was premised on enactment of new state legislation to fund the improvements through a .1 % countywide Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) to be authorized by the state and enacted by King County. Unfortunately, the legislature did not enact this funding source
So for the record, the state has passed legislation to avoid paying cost overruns. The county council's transportation leader says the county shouldn't pay cost overruns. The Seattle City Council is, what, fine with cost overruns? Opposed to paying them? Let's put it in writing.