Provo • Former LDS Church Presiding Bishop H. David Burton was drafted unexpectedly by the other 14 members of the Utah Transit Authority board Wednesday to become its new vice chairman.
"Is this railroading?" Burton asked the board that oversees commuter rail, TRAX and buses.
UTA Twitter chatUTA will hold a “Twitter chat” Thursday at 4:30 p.m. about vast changes proposed to bus routes. It may be followed using the hashtag “#utaservice.” UTA is proposing to change all of its bus routes in Utah County — and many in Salt Lake City — to allow better connections with the new FrontRunner commuter rail section between Salt Lake City and Provo that is scheduled to open Dec. 10.
"Welcome to mass transit," said Board Chairman Greg Hughes.
Burton was appointed to the board earlier this year by Gov. Gary Herbert, after the church had released him as its presiding bishop.
Board member Robert Hunter originally was recruited by the board to be the new vice chairman, replacing Michelle Facer Baguley, who is leaving the board. But Hunter said he felt "the governor gave us a great gift" with Burton’s appointment. He said the board should take advantage of his years of experience working with UTA to increase commuting by LDS Church employees, and to make the church’s new City Creek Center a model "transit-oriented development."
Burton said he would not refuse the election. Meanwhile, Hughes, who is also a state legislator, was re-elected as the board’s chairman.
At the meeting, the board also released a study on equity of taxes and services in the counties it serves.
It found that Salt Lake, Davis and Utah counties receive fewer UTA bus and train services than is funded by their sales taxes and fares, while Weber, Tooele and Box Elder receive more.
Still, all those counties are close to receiving essentially what they pay for, said Matt Sibul, UTA chief planning officer.
The study said under current plans and operations, Salt Lake County residents will pay about $11.1 billion to UTA in the period between 2001 and 2030, while the agency will spend $10.87 billion for services provided there.
Among other "donor" counties, Utah County residents will provide $2.27 billion in revenue over the period and receive $2.22 billion in services, or 2.2 percent less. Davis County residents pay $1.7 billion in revenue and receive $1.69 billion in services, or less than 1 percent less.
Among "recipient counties," Weber County residents will receive about 5 percent more services than they funded with fare and taxes of $1.4 billion. Tooele will receive about 6 percent more, paying $67.5 million and receiving $71.5 million. Box Elder will receive 15 percent more, paying $70.3 million and receiving $80.8 million.
"We try to keep the differences as close to zero as possible," said Matt Sibul, UTA chief planning officer.
"But if it is between 4 or 5 percent, we think that is really good."
He said UTA has been able to improve equity in recent years in most counties as it refines plans and services.
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