The Utah Transit Authority board voted Wednesday to terminate President and CEO Jerry Benson effective May 7.
The move was part of the restructuring of the agency mandated by the Utah Legislature under SB136.
"Jerry represents the past. Our board is being eliminated in a few months. We've been talking to him about what point he should step away," says current UTA board chair Greg Bell. "The Legislature made it clear they wanted to reform the UTA at the board and management level."
The board will not hire a replacement for Benson, leaving that task to the new management team set to take over in November.
Bell says Benson is not the first person to leave the UTA because of the legislature's overhaul, and he won't be the last. The part-time board of trustees will be replaced by a new, full-time board. Additionally, the duties of the agency's in-house lawyers will be performed by the Attorney General's office.
Bell says those employees who know their jobs are disappearing are looking for other employment, which is contributing to a massive brain drain in the agency.
"We're dealing with how to bridge the gap from today until the changeover takes place. One of our managers took another job and left as soon as the law was final. One of our regional managers is a finalist for a position in Arkansas," says Bell.
Bell says the agency is working on some policy changes that would allow staff with specialized knowledge to be hired as a consultant if they leave. Current procedures prohibit that until a year after they leave.
Bell says he hopes the inevitable exodus of employees because of the looming change doesn't turn into a wave of attrition.
"I hope it doesn't become a tide, but there are people in the organization who are tired of the politics," says Bell.