Julie Timm gets 3-year deal as Sound Transit’s new CEO

SEATTLE — Julie Timm is set to lead Sound Transit as chief executive officer in September after the board approved her three-year contract Thursday.

Timm, who leads a regional transit system in Richmond, Virginia, was the board CEO search committee’s top choice out of 48 candidates. The panel narrowed the field to three finalists and made its selection earlier this month following a closed-door executive session.

On Thursday, the Sound Transit board unanimously approved her contract that begins Sept. 26 and runs through Dec. 31, 2025.

“Julie Timm has the experience to ensure we are maximizing federal funding opportunities, meeting our deadlines, and speeding mass transit to Everett, Paine Field, and the rest of the system,” Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said in a statement. Somers is vice chair of the Sound Transit board and served on the search panel.

Timm, who joined the meeting virtually, said she was “humbled and grateful” at the opportunity and joked that deciding where to live could be one of her first controversial decisions.

In a statement, she said the expansion of Sound Transit now under way in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties “represents a historic level of investment” that will transform lives across the Puget Sound region for generations to come.

“It will not be easy or comfortable to complete this vision,” she said. “We will keep these and further projects rolling through strong partnerships and innovative solutions that benefit our parents, our children, and our children’s children.”

Timm will earn $375,000 in salary plus benefits her first year. She is eligible for at least a 3.5% annual increase based on performance rating, and gets 35 paid days off each year. The agency also is offering $64,000 for relocation costs.

The pact includes an option for a fourth year. If the board doesn’t approve the extension, terms of the severance clause will take effect, and Timm will be paid a year’s salary plus retirement and health benefits.

The deal is similar to the one with former CEO Peter Rogoff, who exited last month.

As CEO of the Greater Richmond Transit Company in Virginia, Timm oversees an agency with more than 500 employees and a $58.2 million operational budget. The system offers standard buses, bus rapid transit and paratransit services. It had 7.4 million passengers last year.

Sound Transit serves over 3 million people living in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties with express bus service, light rail and Sounder commuter train. It has a $444.3 million operating budget this year and over 1,300 positions.

The agency’s footprint is growing dramatically in the next two years. Light rail service is expected to reach Lynnwood, the first foray into Snohomish County with stations in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace, as well as east to Bellevue and south to Federal Way.

Beyond that, light rail could reach Everett by 2037. But a $600 million funding gap could delay stations north of the Boeing and Paine Field area from opening until 2041.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report.

Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.

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