Back in June, I warned that I would be surprised if city and county governments didn’t put the UTA tax on ballots because of the “incentive” the legislature gave them. It’s a fiscal incentive better known as a ‘kickback’ which would normally be highly unethical if not illegal but since the legislature did it, it’s ok… Please read the above linked post for details on the kickback along with a list of the other tax increases this year and links to UTA’s bad financial audits. You can also go directly to the 2014 audit here or read a related article from the Salt Lake Tribute here “Audit blasts UTA, says it gave millions in sweetheart deals”
Rather than reinvent the wheel and post my own summary on why we should oppose Proposition 1, let me paste in an excellent summary I was sent in an email (original author is Heather Williamson):
…Also, we are concerned that another tax is being considered against us. And I mean against, not FOR us. Taxes take more dollars out of our pockets which we can simply can not afford. Governments should be expected to work within their existing budgets just like my family and I have to.
However, I am equally concerned with where our tax dollars are going. Almost half of the tax proposal will go to the Utah Transit Authority. UTA has been less than frugal with their funds. I find it offensive that I am being asked to be more frugal with my money, so UTA doesn’t have to be with theirs.
At the end of 2010, UTA was millions of dollars in debt, and the debt continues to rise. The following year over $600,000 was spent on international travel, which an audit released called these ‘work trips’ unnecessary and a misuse of public funds. UTA also signed a deal with a contractor in Draper, which according to another audit, lacked the proper legal documentation and defied UTA’s own rules and regulations. After the deal experienced failure after failure, UTA lost roughly $2 million dollars and did not seek compensation. The auditors concluded that this put “tax dollars at an unnecessary risk.” According to the same audit, UTA legal counsel advised to recover the $2 million, however the executive board decided that the loss was acceptable.
UTA executive bonuses have totaled close to $2 million dollars a year, and that is not including the bonuses that UTA is withholding to report on. According to the same audit, UTA has not reported all compensation to Utah’s state transparency website. Two years ago, General Manager of UTA made over $400,000; General Counsel made over $350,000; and the Chief Operating Officer made over $300,000 and their compensation continues to rise. This government entity is asking for more money, because it has paid itself into debt. And now they are asking me and the other county residents to restrain our budgets even more to pay for their lack of basic budgeting skills. This sales tax, if approved, will increase UTA revenue by millions a year. However, when does it stop?
I have nothing further to add other than to ask you to please vote NO on Prop 1.