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Sometimes-controversial bonuses for Utah Transit Authority administrators will be reduced by nearly a fifth this year because the agency failed to hit some key goals last year.

A UTA Board committee recommended Wednesday that only 83 percent of the money set aside for bonuses actually be awarded. The full board is expected to vote on that plan May 27.

The committee on Wednesday ruled that UTA had set 17 goals last year — but the agency only hit 13 fully and partially achieved four of them.

The board had struggled with how much of the total possible bonuses to award because one of the missed goals was a big one: improving ridership by 4 percent. Ridership increased by 2.2 percent instead, a bit more than half the goal.

"In my mind, ridership should rate as the most significant component of our goals," board member Chris Bleak said in an earlier meeting.

The committee agreed on Wednesday — and recommended withholding one-eighth of the bonus pool because of the miss.

It deducted another 2.5 percent for only partially making progress on a goal for winning federal grants, and deducted less than a percentage point each for partially missing goals on construction of a new natural-gas fueling facility and for progress on starting new "transit-oriented developments."

UTA spokesman Remi Barron said the cut does not mean that everyone's potential bonus will be cut by exactly 17 percent.

"It's my understanding that the 83 percent figure is how much of bonus pool would be made available to employees for outstanding performance. Each of the 700-plus administrative employees is evaluated individually to determine the amount of incentive award they will receive," he said.

Bonuses have been controversial, as some for top brass were as high as $30,000 each two years ago. One official awarded that amount was UTA President and CEO Michael Allegra, whose overall compensation package was $402,187 that year.

Amid criticism, last year UTA adopted a policy to reduce the maximum bonus to $7,500 — and gave that amount to 22 people. Allegra was not given a bonus, despite board praise of his work, and his total compensation fell to $367,608.

A legislative audit last year said that UTA claimed publicly that its salaries are relatively low, but failed to include its large bonuses and generous benefits in comparisons — which made its total compensation high compared to other agencies.