NORTH OGDEN -- Former City Councilman Steve Huntsman says he will drop his lawsuit over plans to build a public works complex if the city agrees to stop all work on the project.
Mayor Richard Harris has consistently said the city will proceed with the project while keeping costs as low as possible.
The complex has been the center of controversy over both its location and cost.
Huntsman's suit alleges the city violated the state's open meetings law and the process by which agendas are provided to the public at a July 12 meeting, when the council set a bonding limit of $10 million for the project. Since then, the council has lowered the maximum bond amount to $7 million.
The city has filed a motion for summary judgment, contending the lawsuit is without merit. In turn, Huntsman filed a response reiterating the points in his lawsuit. He believes the case will go to trial.
City Recorder Annette Spendlove has signed an affidavit that the city followed proper protocol for the meeting and that the resolution to set the bond limits was correct when the council approved the resolution July 12.
City Councilman Wade Bigler has also filed an affidavit, stating that the documentation was not correct when signed by the council and that the city altered the documents after they were signed.
Bigler said he filed the affidavit because he didn't feel that the city's affidavit was truthful.
"You can't argue with the record," said City Attorney Dave Carlson, referring to the tape-recorded minutes of the July 12 meeting where the council discussed the resolution to set the $10 million bond limit.
Huntsman contends that the original documentation sent to the city council before the meeting stated both sales tax revenue and utility revenues would be used to repay the bond. The city plans to increase utility fees to pay for the bond.
Bigler noticed the mistake and notified the city the night before the meeting, Carlson said. The correction was made and emailed to the council, but Bigler claims he did not receive the amended document. Other council members and city workers say he did receive it but did not open the email.
Spendlove said it should have been a non-issue anyway, because the city council can change the wording on a resolution in a city council meeting.
"They can change it, but they didn't need to, because everything was corrected before the meeting," Spendlove said in a phone interview.
Both sides say the other is lying.
"Both affidavits are under oath and penalty of perjury. So one of us may look untrustworthy at trial," Huntsman said in an email. Bigler feels the city has been dishonest through the whole process and said that's why he filed his affidavit.
Spendlove said Bigler's claims are simply not true.
"He is the one that brought the mistake to our attention. We fixed it, and now he is saying it's not (fixed)," she said. "I am the city recorder. I can't change documents. It's against the law, and I would never do that."
The other claim in the lawsuit states that the council inappropriately discussed certain items during closed session. Carlson said that claim is also false.
"I know the law, and if the council got off course it's my job to bring them back. That did not happen," Carlson said. "There is no merit at all to any of his claims, and (Huntsman's) only purpose is to harass and cause delay."
Huntsman was not at the July 12 meeting, but said he watched the meeting on videotape and could read the body language of council members. He also said that because the council came right out of its meeting and voted to buy property, that he could tell the council had gone off track in its meeting.
Huntsman said he feels bad to be doing this to the city, but that he wants to keep everyone honest. He feels strongly that the city council went outside the law, but said he would be willing to let it go if the city would stop the progress with the public works building.
"I absolutely love my city and don't want to do this," Huntsman said.
In the Aug. 23 city council meeting in which the $7 million bond limit was set, Bigler also told the council and public that he could make all the pending or threatened lawsuits go away if the city would follow his plan for the public works building, with a cost set at $4.5 million.
No timetable is set for the lawsuit at this point.