The Utah Transit Authority’s temporary director, Steve Meyer, talked often in recent weeks about looking forward to his retirement next month, especially about plans to escape winter weather here by heading to his vacation home in Quartzite, Ariz.
But the new UTA board on Wednesday cut a deal for him to postpone that — and continue as the agency’s interim executive director while the board searches for a permanent replacement.
The agreement includes allowing him to head to the Arizona desert for the next three months — and work part-time remotely there, coming back to UTA twice a month for two days each time. UTA will pay for his travel between Arizona and Utah.
He will be paid $106.25 an hour for up to 29 hours a week. After April 1, he will continue to work part-time, but would live in Utah.
“We want to have as smooth of a transition for the organization as possible,” said UTA board Chairman Carlton Christensen, who added that the arrangement will help ensure that.
The Legislature recently restructured UTA, replacing the former 16-member, part-time board with a three-member one that is better able to oversee the scandal-tainted agency. That new board took over last month and is just beginning its search for a permanent executive director — which could take months, the board said.
Beth Holbrook, one of the new board members, said it is unusual to have Meyer continue part-time, but said the board figured it would be even more disruptive to bring on another interim director for a short duration before the permanent chief is hired.
Also, Christensen noted that new board members “are here full-time, and we are going to be around. The Legislature has given us responsibility for the agency.”
Meyer took over as UTA’s temporary chief in May — after controversial maneuvering by the former UTA board to replace his predecessor, Jerry Benson, in a way that ensured he would receive a big severance package, worth perhaps $282,000.
Meyer is an engineer who oversaw the design and construction of the FrontRunner commuter train system, and he helped direct expansion of TRAX light-rail lines.
Meyer has been with UTA since 2002. He was its vice president for operations, its chief capital developments officer for six years and its manager of engineering and construction for commuter rails for eight years.
Christensen said that Meyer’s “knowledge of the agency is valuable and the strong, steady leadership he provides has led the agency through this time of transition. He has the utmost confidence of our employees and the board.”
Even with hisnew deal, Meyer still seemed eager to retire. He vowed to keep the board “moving as expeditiously as possible” to find a permanent director. Christensen responded to that, “I am motivated.”