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Opponents Of Proposition 1 Say UTA Support Is Off The Rails

Proposition 1 is a ballot initiative that allows Utahns in participating counties to vote on a sales tax increase with funds earmarked specifically for transportation purposes.

However, some have come out against Proposition 1, taking issue with how the money will be appropriated if approved, specifically how 40 percent of funds raised must be directed to a local transportation entity.

For Utahns along the Wasatch Front that means the Utah Transit authority, an organization that met controversy in 2014 for paying out large sums of money in UTA executive bonuses.

“They just have not been good stewards with our taxpayer dollars, so it’s very hard to trust them going into the future with more taxpayer dollars,” said Evelyn Everton, state director for American’s for Prosperity in Utah.

Due to possible conflict of interest, representatives from the UTA are not allowed to publicly advocate for Proposition 1.

Everton says a press conference Wednesday in which David Burton, Board Chairman for UTA appeared to answer questions is a violation of this rule.

“The UTA has promised that they would not campaign,” Everton said. “In fact they’re not actually allowed to campaign because they are an agency that is funded by taxpayer dollars, and to have their top person at a rally or a conference in support really is just a perception problem that I think is just another instance of the UTA breaking their promises.”

Remi Barron a UTA spokesman, argues that Burton’s appearance was simply to provide information and was not in support of Proposition 1.

“Providing information is not necessarily advocacy. We have put forth various scenarios where service could be enhanced depending on the community if it were to pass, but we’re always careful to tell them that we will show up to a council meeting but we won’t take a position on Proposition 1,” Barron said.

So is providing information on how communities might benefit from passing new tax, advocacy for the Proposition? Everton believes it is.

“By appearing at a pro-Proposition 1 news conference, I think it really does send a perception to voters that the UTA is supporting this and they are advocating for it,” Everton said.

Utah voters will take to the polls Nov. 3 to determine the fate of Proposition 1, and as a reminder to voters in mail-in-only counties, check with your local county office for post-mark deadlines.