On April 13, The Salt Lake Tribune published an article titled, "UTA doubled execs' bonuses last year," and on April 17, an editorial titled, "Not justified." The Utah Transit Authority Board of Trustees would like to clarify what is being accomplished with its performance-based compensation program.
UTA's performance-based compensation program is designed to encourage efficiency and productivity. Compensation is based on transit industry standards, and in general, is at or below the national average. The program helps UTA attract and retain talented transit professionals, since extensive experience is required to build and operate a multi-modal system such as ours. Other agencies in Utah that receive public funding have similar performance-based compensation programs, and UTA's is not the largest one. It is a very minor part of UTA's overall budget – less than one percent – and it is subject to the achievement of annual goals established by the board.
The UTA Board of Trustees did not double the performance-based compensation earnings for executives last year, and the group received less than 10 percent of the established funding pool. The program was restored last year after being cut by 50 percent the previous year due to the economic downturn. Also, 389 employees participated in the performance-based compensation program, an increase of 51 employees from the previous year. This was due to a larger workforce put in place to service the many miles of new rail lines, additional bus service and record number of riders.