North Ogden mayor, councilman clash over public works complex

Oct 27 2011 - 6:16am

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NORTH OGDEN -- A request to pay bills associated with the proposed public works facility again divided the city council Tuesday and led to a verbal confrontation between a council member and the mayor.

Mayor Richard Harris explained to the council that details relating to the project need to be tied up.

"There are still outstanding bills," he said.

Harris also wants the design team to get to a stopping point so the project can resume easily after a referendum is held, which many hope will be in June.

The project is almost at the end of the schematic design phase, which Harris feels is a good stopping point.

"We have a good design, and we want to utilize the expertise we have. Once we are to that point, we can shelve the project."

The public works complex has been a contentious issue in the city, first over location, then over cost. Residents recently filed petitions seeking to put the cost of the project up for public vote. That vote is expected to occur in June.

The council sat silent after Councilman Wade Bigler moved to stop all spending on the proposed complex.

After his motion died for lack of a second, Bigler expressed frustration that no one would second a motion to stop a project he thinks is not going to happen.

The city has set aside $100,000 per year for the past five years. By the end of this fiscal year, $600,000 will have been set aside for the project.

That is the money for paying existing design bills.

There are also bills from the bonding attorneys who helped set the parameters for a possible bond issue.

Harris said he has no idea what the final cost of those items will be, but it won't exceed the $600,000 figure.

"Of course we have to pay outstanding bills," Bigler said at the council meeting, but he doesn't want to incur any other costs. "This project is not going through. We know that for a fact."

"No, we don't," Councilman Ron Flamm countered.

Bigler told the mayor and council that he is not the only one who wants spending stopped.

"Stop spending the residents' money. I can tell you residents don't want any more money spent," he said.

When Harris said the project was approved by the city council, Bigler started to talk over the mayor.

"Not anymore," Bigler said, referring to the petition as he raised his voice.

When both Harris and Bigler spoke at the same time, Harris told Bigler he needed to stop talking.

"You don't have the floor, and you are out of order," Harris told Bigler.

Harris told the council that the process he had explained -- paying the existing bills and getting to a stopping point with the design team -- is what is going to happen.

"We will bring it to a close then," he said.

It also was planned for Bigler to discuss the referendum, but the item was pulled from the agenda, and Bigler spoke no more about the project.

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