UTA wants to ‘clarify some confusion’ from reports regarding legislative audit

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority has come under fire this week after a legislative audit indicated issues, citizens petitioned, and a state lawmaker called for a criminal investigation; on Friday, officials issued a statement regarding the audit and media coverage that has come in the wake of that audit.

The full statement, titled “UTA Statement on Legislative Audit”, is reproduced below:

Management at the Utah Transit Authority would like to clarify some confusion from early media reports on the Legislative Audit conducted on the business practices of UTA.

Much of the news coverage has centered on a Draper parking garage and property for which $10 million was paid to the landowner/developer. Contrary to reporting by the Salt Lake Tribune, and later other news outlets, we must point out that the garage was built and is in use today.

The address of the garage is 12997 S. FrontRunner Blvd., Draper UT.

The money paid to the developer for the property and parking structure was, in fact, applied to the Draper garage. Additional taxpayer money was not required for construction. It should also be noted that the cost per stall of this completed structured parking garage is less than any other parking on the entire FrontRunner line, including surface parking. UTA is still owed $1.7 million and intends to collect that by 2015. The outstanding funds are secured through collateral and the developer has a schedule of repayment.

As stated earlier, and confirmed by the audit, no violation of law has been asserted and UTA has already implemented or incorporated all of the recommendations of the audit. We continue to work to provide the best possible transit service to people up and down the Wasatch Front.

The audit, released Tuesday, indicated there were big salaries and underfunded services, click here for details. At a meeting Wednesday night, citizens blasted UTA officials, challenged them to use the system to see how it actually works for riders, and delivered a petition with thousands of signatures asking for more late-night services. Click here for details on that meeting.

FOX 13 News’ reported Thursday State Senator Todd Weiler, R-District 23, was seeking a criminal investigation regarding the parking garage that had been built.

Weiler said Thursday: “The audit found that there was no fraud, but it just seems like they prepaid this money for a garage, they asked for the money back, and it was apparently spent on something else, it doesn’t appear right to me.  I think what ought to be investigated is whether or not there was a misappropriation of public monies.”

Click here for more of Weiler’s comments on the issue.