UTA Board raises pay ranges for most agency administrative jobs by 2%

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) A UTA supervisor directs Trax riders to a bus to get them to the next stop, as Trax trains were not operating in downtown Salt Lake City, on January 28, 2017.

After surveying salaries of similar jobs in the state, the Utah Transit Authority Board voted Wednesday to increase the median pay ranges for administrative jobs at the agency by 2%.

The three-person, full-time board — whose salaries are set by a separate advisory board — is allowing up to 79 administrative positions potentially to receive base pay higher than board members’ own current $140,000 a year each.

Still, compensation levels generally appear lower now than when past high executive salaries sparked controversy and helped prod the Legislature to restructure the agency and led most of those past high-paid executives to depart.

For example, new UTA Executive Director Carolyn Gonot was hired last year at a base salary of $221,423 in a three-year contract. That compares with former UTA President and CEO Michael Allegra, who received total compensation (including pay and benefits) of $402,187 in 2013, which included a $30,000 bonus, setting off criticism by state auditors.

Of note, the agency’s former general counsel, Bruce Jones, recently sued the agency for $300,000 in canceled bonuses, and UTA countersued him for fraud and legal malpractice. Jones had been criticized in state audits for his 2013 total compensation of $384,472.

The UTA Board now has a policy to reset acceptable administrative pay ranges every year after research about the pay of similar jobs in the state.

The maximum base pay allowed for any UTA job is now $256,389 a year — allowed for seven top positions, including the executive director, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief communications and marketing officer. The allowed range is between $133,111 and $256,389, with a median of $184,738.

Another 12 top administrative positions have a pay range between $120,107 and $222,538, with a median of $163,488. They include such jobs as regional general managers and overseers of light rail and commuter rail.

Also, two dozen positions have a range of $101,966 to $181,926, with a median of $136,219. They include the UTA Police chief, the agency’s government relations director (a lobbyist) and its communications director.

The final group that potentially could be paid more than the ruling board members are three dozen positions with a salary range of $87,197 to $150,120, with a median of $114,412. They include such positions as the manager of rail operations, the fares director and the director of safety and security.

Of note, the new annual salary ranges of trainers for bus and rail operators is $49,902 to $76,278, with a median of $61,696. The pay for operators, a nonadministrative position, is set through collective bargaining with their union. Currently, UTA pays $17.76 an hour after training to bus and rail operators, and up to $23.69 an hour after five years.