UTA suspends bonuses, keeps executive transportation allowances

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Transit Authority will not pay annual bonus to employees this month.

The agency has been under fire since last week over this issue, earning sharp criticism from the public.

About 250 executives, managers and staffers usually receive incentive checks each spring based on performance of the previous year.

A spokesman says the agency's board awards bonuses when employees meet goals for things like ridership, performance and progress on new transit lines.

"Well, you know, they can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to up to thousands of dollars for top executives," said UTA spokesman Gerry Carpenter.

CEO John Inglish was set to earn a $43,000 bonus this year, along with a nearly $10,000 transportation allowance, which would have put him at $349,000 in total compensation.

The move to cut bonuses will save UTA about $600,000 this year.

For the top three UTA executives that money totals over $100,000. KSL has learned more about what the total compensation for executives entails.

Executives to still receive transportation allowances

CEO John Inglish was set to earn a $43,000 bonus this year, along with a nearly $10,000 transportation allowance, which would have put him at $349,000 in total compensation.

General Manager Michael Allegra receives the same transportation allowance, plus a $219,000 base salary and was to get an almost $32,000 bonus in 2010.

General Counsel Bruce Jones was to receive a $30,000 bonus along with a $12,000 transportation allowance, in addition to his $207,000 salary.

A UTA spokesman says the transportation allowance is a cash allowance intended to go toward transportation -- at the executive's discretion -- for purchase or lease of a vehicle, repairs, maintenance or fuel costs. Executives with a transportation allowance don't get mileage reimbursement that employees who use their own cars for work purposes normally get.

Still, even though UTA's top three executives won't receive a bonus this year, all three will still receive the transportation allowance, along with their normal base salary.

Did pressure over salaries contribute to decision?

Spokesman Gerry Carpenter couldn't say whether recent pressure over UTA executives' salaries led to this. He did tell KSL UTA has considered the action for a while.

"This decision was actually made last week. It's been something that's been on the table for some time now as we discuss our budget situation with the economic recession," he said.

Next UTA Board Meeting:
Wednesday, April 28 at 2:30 p.m.
Davis Conference Center
1651 North 700 West, Layton
Meridian A Room

UTA recently has come under fire for executives' salaries. Gov. Gary Herbert said he was in shock when he learned UTA's CEO John Inglish makes nearly $350,000 a year.

KSL News contacted transit agencies around the country and found that amount easily tops the No. 1 salaries 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.

"I think the decision to give bonuses in the first place was terribly misguided," said Democratic Salt Lake County Council member Jim Bradley. "There are certainly probably people there who deserve a bonus, but there are people all over this valley who deserve jobs. And they don't even have jobs in this economic time, so to give out bonuses now is fairly insensitive to the economic times."

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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