NORTH OGDEN -- Four North Ogden residents have delivered a petition containing 3,449 signatures to the county election office, asking the city to put the hotly contested question of a $7 million public works bond issue on next month's ballot.
The petition was delivered Thursday by Chris O'Neil, Justin Fawson, Kent Bailey and Lynn Satterthwaite.
Weber County Elections Director Douglas Larsen said the petition information is currently being entered into the system.
"We plan to go over the information as expeditiously as possible," Larsen said. The city is waiting for the names to be counted and for the county to make sure the signers are active, registered voters. Once that has been determined, the petition can then be turned over to the city and it can make a decision whether to put the issue on the Nov. 8 ballot.
City Attorney Dave Carlson said about 2,600 signatures will have to be accepted through the county and city processes for the petition to be considered regarding the November ballot. Once that is taken care of, ballot language has to be written and provided to the sponsors, and a voter guide will have to go out.
"It will be tight, but the city has said all along that we will do everything on our part to get it on the ballot this November," Carlson said.
The two sides have gone back and forth accusing each other of not wanting to get the issue on the ballot, but both sides now say that's what they have wanted to do all along.
"We are happy that North Ogden residents get to vote on this issue. It is now the city's decision when this vote will be held. It does not matter to the petition organizers or to residents when the city decides to put this issue to ballot. We will be happy to vote on it at any time," City Councilman Wade Bigler said of the petitioners.
City Manager Ed Dickie said the city is also happy to let voters decide.
"That is our intent," he said. He worries that residents do not understand that the city has always wanted to keep costs as low as possible, but to also give the city the public works facility it needs.
"We have always just tried to do what the council wanted," Dickie said of the plans for the public works complex. "We have always wanted to do what was best for the city and the residents."
Residents will vote on whether they want to approve a revenue bond not to exceed $7 million to build a public works complex. If the vote passes, residents will see about a $5 per month increase in their utility rates.
But Dickie said residents will see a utility rate increase even if the city opts for a $4.5 million proposal favored by opponents of the city's plan. The only question is the amount of the rate increase, and that will depend on overall costs.
Justin Fawson, who is one of the sponsors of the petition, said many residents want the facility, just not at such a high price. He said people were eager to sign the petition, but the fact that they signed doesn't mean they will vote against the measure, because that's not what the petition asks. He thinks the measure won't pass, but if it does, he and his friends can do nothing but support it, because it is what residents want.
Carlson hopes the city will receive the petition and signatures sometime next week.