Great work - Top salaries at the UTA

Gov. Gary Herbert called the $339,179 salary of Utah Transit Authority's top executive, John Inglish, "a tad excessive" the other day. We agree with the governor.

Not that Inglish has not done a good job. He has guided UTA's rapid expansion into rail service with a sure hand during his 13 years at the controls, even when the public voted against it. Most Utahns like TRAX and think it is a success, although we suspect that those who like it in the abstract have a higher opinion of it than those who ride it every day. At rush hour, trains are jammed and you can't get a seat, even a dirty one, on the Sandy line.

We can see why the governor would think Inglish is overpaid. Herbert makes a mere $109,900 as the state's chief executive, and he has to campaign for office, eat endless chicken dinners, kiss babies and put up with the Legislature.

It used to be that the president of the University of Utah was the most highly paid public official in these parts. Not anymore. Kyle Whittingham, the U.'s football coach, gets paid $1.2 million, three times what U. President Michael Young pulls down ($394,319). But, Young probably can't diagram a nickel package, either. In fact, he ranks only 46th on the U.'s pay list. Most of those above him, besides basketball coach Jim Boylen (No. 5, $834,449), are doctors on the medical faculty.

It is fairer to compare Inglish's salary to those of other transit managers. Even on that basis, however, Inglish's is a tad excessive. As The Tribune reported Friday, the top dog in New York City's transit system is paid $350,000 plus housing. The guy in L.A. gets $214,000, and the one in San Francisco gets $308,307. All of these transit systems dwarf the UTA.

UTA argues that Inglish is the dean of U.S. transit managers. Maybe so.

But it is hard for strap hangers to accept that the transit agency is paying its executives top dollar at the same time that it is pleading poverty and cutting service. That isn't the agency's fault; sales tax revenues are down because of the recession, but a little sacrifice at the top couldn't hurt.

High pay at UTA is not limited to Inglish, either. His No. 2, Mike Allegra, pulls down $250,940, and general counsel Bruce T. Jones makes $237,752. In fact, of UTA's top 50 employees on the pay scale, 41 of them make at least $100,000.

By the way, none of them drives a bus. Last week, UTA sued to impose a contract on its employees without an agreement from the transit union. It does not include any raises and it increases worker-paid health premiums.


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