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Eight months after the resignation of sometimes-controversial Utah Transit Authority President and CEO Michael Allegra, the agency is getting close to choosing his replacement.

UTA Board Chairman H. David Burton said Monday the agency has been taking its time to ensure it finds "the right kind of an individual who can continue the thrust for gaining public confidence. That's what it's all about for us."

He noted that UTA has been attempting numerous reforms — including just announcing some changes to board meetings to improve transparency and public involvement. Reforms, plus hiring the right new CEO, are key to building public trust, he said.

"We have to have public confidence or we can't serve the public needs, Proposition 1 being a prime example of that," said Burton, who is the former presiding bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Prop 1 would have raised sales tax for transit and roads. Three counties served by UTA approved it last November: Davis, Weber and Tooele. But three defeated it — Salt Lake, Utah and Box Elder — amid criticism of high UTA executive pay and bonuses, extensive travel and sweetheart deals with developers.

"Our revenue is tied up in what the public is willing to do, and in the case of Salt Lake and Utah counties, they weren't willing to authorize more funds for public transit," Burton said. "So we're looking to people who can portray the image that needs to be portrayed and the trust level that the public expects."

UTA "will be interviewing [president/CEO] candidates later this month in the first round, so we're progressing," he said. "We don't feel any sense of urgency" to hire someone quickly, but instead are focusing on choosing the best person.

Allegra resigned effective Aug. 28 last year, but continued to receive his salary through March.

His salary had been controversial. Allegra's total compensation (including pay and benefits) was $402,187 in 2013, which included a $30,000 bonus. Amid criticism, his compensation dropped by $34,579 in 2014 to $367,608 — mostly because Allegra received no bonus.

Allegra led UTA to complete numerous TRAX, FrontRunner and streetcar projects in recent years under budget and ahead of schedule. The agency also achieved record ridership and was named the 2014 Outstanding Public Transportation System by the American Public Transportation Association.

Burton spoke about the search for a new CEO as he answered questions about just-announced changes to UTA Board meetings.

Changes include returning to the full board some decision-making powers that had been delegated to some of its committees.

Burton said that includes approval of buying new property and UTA involvement in transit-oriented developments. He said the full board now wants "full disclosure and full transparency" and "full board review and approval" of such items.

Last year, controversy resulted when the board's five-member executive committee by itself approved some questionable international travel, although rules appeared to require approval by the full board. The executive board's agenda that day also did not make clear it was considering international travel.

Burton said the UTA Board also will start posting online in advance of its meetings background materials to give more information about items on its agendas, "so it's not just an agenda item." The website also will allow members of the public to comment before board deliberation.

The board previously has made full background materials available to the press and public — but only upon request, and often just minutes before meetings.

Burton said providing earlier access to such materials will provide "greater dialogue among the board and public as decisions are made."

He noted that the structure of board meetings also will change to allow public comment for each agenda item as it is considered. Currently, public comment is allowed only at the beginning of meetings and generally has been limited to about two minutes per person.

"We hope in the future that we can live-stream meetings" online, Burton added. He said officials are working to add that soon.

"We have been embarked on a campaign to let the public know what we are doing, and what we have done in the past, to improve the trust level," Burton said.

Information about reforms by UTA is available online at