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Lawmakers pull plug on UTA name change

(Photo Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Don’t change the name.  Lawmakers who were once supporting the name change of UTA say they’re backing off.  They believe there was a lot of bad information about how much that re-branding would cost.

Legislators say changing the name of UTA was just a small portion of what SB 136 was all about.  Senator Wayne Harper says the bill made changes to how UTA is run, but, the name change grabbed all the headlines, mainly because of the very high price tag.

“Rumors have circulated that it would cost $50 million to sandblast and repaint trains, buses and cars and to immediately reprint letterhead and new shirts.  That’s just not correct,” Harper says.

So, Harper and other lawmakers who supported the name change are now reversing their stance.  Representative Mike Schultz says there was no actual money allocated for it.

Schultz believes UTA workers put out the high figure as a distraction to make people look away from stories of bad governance within the organization and away from recent reports of criticism from the Attorney General’s Office.  The AG sent a letter to UTA officials, saying they may have broken the Open Public Meeting Act by discussing a former boss’ severance package behind closed doors.

“I believe that it was there to take the focus away from what the AG was looking at,” Schultz says.

However, UTA Spokesman Carl Arky says their agency never misled anyone.  He says they weren’t give a lot of time to estimate the total expenses.

“A best effort was made to come up with a number, and that number was given to the legislature,” Arky says.

He says their analysts began to look into re-branding, and spoke with advertisers about how much it would cost.  Arky acknowledges their estimate could be wrong.

“Perhaps we are off on the number, but, we made the best effort that we could to come up with an accurate number,” he says.