State Lawmakers Looking into Changes for UTA Leadership

State Lawmakers Looking into Changes for UTA Leadership

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Some state lawmakers may push for changes in the leadership of the Utah Transit Authority, which pays its general manager a salary they consider exorbitant for an organization funded mostly with tax dollars.

The 15-member board that oversees UTA is private, leaving members to be more inclined to excessive compensation practices, state Sen. Howard Stephenson said.

"This kind of compensation for public service is clearly an outrage," the Draper Republican told The Salt Lake Tribune for a story Sunday.

Inglish, who has run UTA since 1997, has overseen rapid expansion of the transportation system that serves the Wasatch Front. And his salary has risen by $97,000 over the past five years to $266,614.40, not including benefits. In comparison, state schools superintendent Patti Harrington makes $142,379.16 and Gov. Jon Huntsman has a salary of $104,100.

But Inglish stands by his salary, noting that he isn't a typical public employee.

"What we do is as close to a business as you get," Inglish said.

Inglish also noted that hasn't taken the full 7 percent raise in his contract the last two years and has kept his 1999 Ford pickup.

"I feel good about that," he said.

UTA has an estimated ridership of about 100,000 with buses and light rail trains. According to a transit-industry magazine study in 2003, Inglish makes more than his peers in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and several other major cities even though Utah has a much smaller population base.

Orrin Colby, president of UTA board of trustees, suggested that elected officials should improve salaries in the public sector rather than attack Inglish.

"The political process is such a heavy influence that there is an arbitrary suppression of income for those people in those positions," Colby said.

Rep. John Dougall, R-Highland, is interested in pursuing legislation that would reduce the authority of UTA. House Speaker Greg Curtis and Senate President John Valentine also expressed some concern.

"It appears there is a stronger need for UTA to be under the watchful eye of elected officials," Valentine said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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