What, or who, will it take to rescue UTA?

Is it time for new leadership at UTA?

With the failure of Prop 1 in Salt Lake County, where opposition to the transportation tax was unfunded and supporters raised $675,000, blame was quickly placed on UTA for sinking the transportation tax. UTA would have been the recipient of 40% of the revenues raised by the tax hike.

by Daniel Burton
by Daniel Burton

UTA executives make high six figure salaries and regularyly enjoy exotic foreign trips to research other metropolitan transit systems; consequently, sympathy for subsidizing public transit has fallen. While Salt Lake County voters in the past have supported bonds for things like ZAP, but now have denied a tax increase for transportation related improvements, it’s is a devastating commentary on UTA’s credibility.

And yet, UTA’s response to the loss in Utah’s most populous county left some unimpressed.

“Public trust and transparency are possibly the two most important things when it comes to how hard-earned tax payer dollars are being spent,” Dan Hauser, former state director for Senator Mike Lee and political consult, to Utah Politico Hub. “Audit after audit of the UTA has shown that they have little regard for both of those issues. Even today, in their response to Prop 1 being shot down in the two biggest counties in Utah, they show that they just don’t get it.”

The Salt Lake Tribune was more direct: “The Utah Transit Authority’s credibility is so blown not even the former presiding bishop of the LDS Church could save it.”

If H. David Burton couldn’t save UTA, who could?

Mitt Romney, perhaps?

Utah legislator, Rep. Dan McCay, thinks it’ll take more than the typical CEO.

“Restoring public trust requires a different kind of hire for the next UTA CEO than the typical next in line person,” said McCay to Utah Politico Hub.  “It has to be someone with a reputation in Utah for bringing accountability and restoring public trust.”

Maybe someone like…?

John Dougall served in the Utah House for 10 years before running as "Frugal Dougall" for State Auditor. He won and took office in 2014.
John Dougall served in the Utah House for 10 years before running as “Frugal Dougall” for State Auditor. He won and took office in 2014.

“It has to be someone like [Utah State Auditor] John Dougall,” said McCay. “I don’t know if he would take the job, but he would be an interesting candidate.”

Hauser agreed. “John Dougall is probably the only one Utahns would trust to fix the boondoggle that is the UTA.”

When asked, Dougall neither said he would take the job nor that he would turn it down.

“It’s important to under promise and over deliver, and don’t waste taxpayer money” Dougall told Utah Politico Hub. “Nothing kills trust more than failure to deliver the service people expect and treating the finances as an executive’s personal piggy-bank.”

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