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UTA budget hearing scheduled today in S.L.

The Board of Trustees of the Utah Transit Authority is holding a public hearing today on UTA's proposed 2006 budget. The budget includes cuts to some Salt Lake City bus service and may also include a 25-cent surcharge on most one-way transit rides.

The public hearing will be at 2:30 p.m. at UTA headquarters, 3600 S. 700 West in Salt Lake City. Members of the Anti-Hunger Action Committee — a low-income advocacy group that is protesting the surcharge — plan to attend the meeting and invite board members to a special summit about the low-income.

The Anti-Hunger Action Committee says the proposed surcharge is hurtful to people on a fixed budget.

UTA spokeswoman Andrea Packer said the surcharge is not yet definite. If implemented, it would not apply to tickets provided to seniors, the disabled and low-income providers.

"At this point we don't know how the potential surcharge is factoring into the budget," said Packer. "We decided to postpone it until July. In the meantime, we will watch fuel prices and our farebox return and make a decision about it at some point in time."

UTA has already hosted one low-income summit. The agency welcomes more discussions, said Packer.

The 25-cent surcharge was suggested in October by John Inglish, UTA general manager. Inglish says the surcharge, which would be temporary, is a way to combat rising diesel fuel prices. UTA is planning for $6 million in additional fuel costs next year.