3,300 sign N. Ogden petition

Oct 5 2011 - 6:48am

NORTH OGDEN -- More than 3,300 residents have signed a petition to get on the ballot the issue of whether to build a public works complex that would cost up to $7 million.

The issue can still go on the ballot in November, but petitioners have to turn the names in to the county election office by 5 p.m. Friday.

Weber County Election Director Doug Larsen said it is too late for the county to prepare the ballot for North Ogden voters, but the city still has time if it chooses to.

His office can still verify the names, but those names must be submitted to his office by this Friday, he was told by the Utah Attorney General's Office.

His office has to verify that the petition signers are active, registered voters. Once that determination is made, the names are then turned over to the city, and it can do what it chooses to do with the information, Larsen said.

Two thousand signatures had to be gathered within 45 days of the council's Aug. 23 vote to set the $7 million bond parameter for the public works complex.

City Recorder Annette Spendlove said the city has always been willing to put the issue on the ballot if the proper petition protocol is followed.

"We have spent a lot of time helping them and showing them how to do it right," City Manager Ed Dickie said of the latest petition drive.

An earlier petition drive was over a bond issue for the project not to exceed $10 million. The city sued two of the petitioners, stating they had not followed proper petition referendum rules.

The lawsuit was dropped once the council voted on the $7 million bond limit. Soon after that passed, petitioners set out to get signatures to stop the complex from going forward.

Now some of the main petitioners are claiming the issue cannot go on the ballot, but the city says it still can. Petitioners are asking that work on the complex cease because of the petition opposing the city's action.

"Because it is highly unlikely that the proposed building will go through, I request the city council stop all spending on the public works complex until the new council is seated," city council candidate Kent Bailey said at a recent council meeting.

The city has about $100,000 set aside for the project and is trying to do some work with that money.

Councilman Wade Bigler also asked the council not to do anything more until a new council is seated.

"This is not going to go through, and to me, it seems silly to spend taxpayer money at this point," he said.

City Attorney Dave Carlson wants the issue on the ballot this fall.

"They want to delay until next year, when they think there will be a new city council to kill the project," he said.

Dickie said, "We want the people to vote. We are doing everything in our power to spend the least amount possible on this facility. We are always trying to get the numbers down."

The number of people who have signed the petition exceeds the number of residents who voted in the primary by nearly 2,000, with 1,589 votes cast in the primary election.

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