Outcry over UTA salaries growing louder

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salaries for executives at the Utah Transit Authority are among the top in the nation.

The CEO and other top administrators at the agency are slated to take on new responsibilities and new titles. While their compensation will remain the same*, there are growing concerns about that pay, which equals or tops their counterparts in much larger cities.

UTA is considering a reshuffle of its top executives. The highest salaries are $339,000 for the man in its top job, John Inglish, and in the range of a quarter million each for his two lieutenants. Critics of those numbers are not mincing words.

The highest paid state employee at $496,700 is Richard Spencer, Clinical Director for the Dept. of Human Services. -UtahsRight.com

"I just think it's appalling," says Barbara Toomer, with the Disabled Rights Action Committee. "I go back to the fact that it's my money. It's my sales tax money. It's my federal tax money. It's my state tax money. It's money that belongs to the people of the state of Utah, and we're paying for this guy to make more money than our governor is."

"I'm very troubled by them. It's incomprehensible to me how UTA can justify these exorbitant salaries, especially in the economic times we're faced with," says Rep. Janice Fisher, D-West Valley City.

Top UTA Salaries

John InglishGeneral Manager & CEO$339,179
Michael AllegraAsst General Manager/CCDO$250,940
Bruce T JonesGeneral Counsel$237,752
Kenneth D MontagueChief Financial Officer$202,821
Jerry R BensonChief Operating Officer$188,804

But UTA leaders say the salaries are reasonable and competitive with other transit agencies regionally and non-profits nationally. They say with UTA's dramatic growth, it pays to keep seasoned hands on board.

"You look at other salaries throughout businesses and organizations, and I think if people would look at those and be astounded -- in terms of being much more than we are here," says Larry Ellertson, chairman of the UTA Board of Trustees.

KSL News contacted transit agencies around the country and found UTA's top salary easily tops the No. 1 salary in Chicago, Vegas, Phoenix, Washington D.C., Denver and San Francisco.

New York City's top transit executive makes $350,000 overseeing a system with nearly 9 million riders daily and an $11 billion budget. That dwarfs UTA's 143,000 daily ridership and $180 million budget.

Salaries of Transit CEOs/GMs in other states

CitySalaryDaily ridership
New York City$350,0008.7 million
San Francisco$308,000672,000
Chicago$198,0001.7 million

"I would say the board is comfortable with these numbers at this point," Ellertson says.

As for UTA General Manager John Inglish, he says he's fine with his and other top salaries as well.

"I am comfortable with it, yes," Inglish says. "I think the public is entitled to best management and leadership that can be provided."

According to a website that tracks salaries in Utah, UTA's top job is higher than nearly every other non-medical public employee. Also, Inglish's salary tops his counterpart at the Utah Department of Transportation by more than $100,000 and is three times what the governor makes.

UTA's board will vote on the new salaries April 28.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com


*Editors note: In an earlier version of this story, KSL incorrectly reported that UTA officials would be receiving raises. This script has been corrected to show that their compensations will remain the same.

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