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8/28/2014



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Utah state auditor raises concerns about certain UTA practices


Utah Transit Authority (UTA) officials have posted on the agency's website a 56-page response to concerns and criticisms contained in a newly released state audit report of the agency's practices.

The Utah Legislative Auditor General's 2014 performance audit followed up performance audits in 2008 and 2012, and also examined for the first time UTA development projects, including transit-oriented developments.

Among concerns raised in the new report:

• UTA provided $10 million to a developer to build a future parking structure even though there were no design specifications or immediate plans for construction. Auditor's recommendation: Development projects need better control and oversight.

• UTA management underreported executive compensation in 2013 to the state's transparency website, despite being made aware that not all compensation was being reported. Auditor's recommendation: UTA should benchmark total compensation. (The authority's board recently approved a new policy to correct the issue, according to the report.)

• UTA state-of-good-repair costs are "significant" and currently underfunded. The agency's board is aware of the future costs and prioritized full funding in its 202 strategic plan, the audit report stated.

• Questions raised in the 2008 and 2012 audits over the agency's fare-box policies continue to be raised. Transit service is highly subsidized, and subsidy levels among passenger types and modes are inconsistent. In addition, UTA's passenger data practices "inhibit high-level analysis and informed decision making." Although the agency has improved its electronic fare collection system since 2012, "the system is still insufficient to analyze ridership."

The UTA board's response addressed all four of the auditor's areas of concern. Although many recommendations already were being addressed prior to the performance audit, board members and management agree with and have adopted all recommendations in the audit, authority officials said in their executive summary.








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