President Trump announces $187M headed to UTA, but agency already talked about that for months

(Evan Vucci | AP file photo) President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters during an event on May 26, 2020.

Among a stream of tweets on Tuesday, President Donald Trump “announced” that $187 million in coronavirus relief funding is coming to the Utah Transit Authority — but the agency already had spoken publicly for months about how that funding coming.

“Relief is on the way to Utah! I’m proud to send $187.18M in CARES Act funding to @RideUTA,” the president’s tweet said. “This money will keep people moving and support a swift and smooth economic recovery for the GREAT people of Utah!”

While the money is welcome, it wasn’t exactly news for UTA.

In his monthly financial reports to the UTA Board, Bob Biles, UTA’s Chief Financial Offer has been reporting the estimated amount since February from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed by Congress and signed by Trump, said UTA spokesman Carl Arky.

For example, the UTA Board talked in mid-April about how its eligibility for up to $187 million in emergency federal aid would help it weather the loss of fare and tax revenue during COVID-19 restrictions, including helping to pay salaries as it was forced to cut service.

The agency had talked about how such funding is needed as it projected that it may take up to three years for it to recover from coronavirus impacts.

The coming federal aid is more than UTA’s annual bus operations budget of $108 million, and about 38% of the agency’s total operations budget of $490.1 million.

“This is a one-time infusion of funds provided by the CARES Act passed by Congress to mitigate the financial impacts due to COVID,” UTA spokesman Arky said on Tuesday.

“The primary purposes are to sustain revenues and service,” he said. “At this time, we are still determining how the funds will be used based on the requirements of the bill, but we expect our primary use will be to make up for lost revenues.”