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Big changes for UTA, fee hikes for hybrid cars and taxes for transit in huge transportation bill

SALT LAKE CITY — A major bill on transportation has been unveiled in the Utah State Legislature that would dramatically restructure the makeup of the Utah Transit Authority’s board, pump more tax money into transit and raise fees for electric and hybrid cars.

The bill, unveiled by the Transportation Governance Task Force on Thursday, does some significant things. Here’s the highlights:

  • The controversial UTA Board of Trustees gets a shakeup from 16 members, appointed by political entities, down to three representing the counties in UTA’s service area. They would be full-time and paid, with the appointment of the governor and confirmation by the Senate. It’s an effort to control a board that has been the subject of scrutiny over scandals involving the agency. However, the state of Utah did not want to take over UTA and absorb its $2 billion in debt. The CEO becomes executive director.
  • More money will be spent on transit, including shifting around existing dollars to fund transit projects. UDOT will create a planning division for transit projects.
  • Taxes will go up for transit development. These include transient room taxes (hotels) and local option sales taxes. A sales tax will be imposed on the counties within UTA’s service district and higher taxes for counties that did not adopt sales tax options.
  • Motor vehicle registration fees will go up for electric and hybrid cars. One of the problems has been they don’t use as much gas (if any) but still use the roads. FOX 13 covered that problem last year.
  • UDOT will begin looking at a “road user charge” in lieu of gas tax money to pay for roads. This would basically charge you for road miles driven. Electric vehicles may be able to get their registration fee waived by participating in this program.

This is a breaking news story. Updates on FOX 13 News and fox13now.com as details become available.