MORGAN -- After securing federal funding and spending about $134,000, some Morgan County Council members have misgivings about constructing a new animal control facility.
"I would just as soon get the federal government and lawyers out of our money," said Councilman Robert Kilmer. "I would like to see us return what is left of the bond, take it out of their hands and control it ourselves."
Former Sheriff Gene Ercanbrack presented the idea of an animal control building to the county council in June 2007.
Former Council Administrator Garth Day facilitated submission of an application to the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board for lease revenue bonds to fund the project in 2010 shortly before his August resignation.
The board awarded $600,000 to the county in November. Using CIB funds qualified the project for federal Build America Bonds, which carry an interest rate of about 2.9 percent.
In October, the council approved RW Design as the lowest-bidding general contractor at $414,770.
The county secured $600,000 in federal Build America Bonds to construct the animal control building near the county's search and rescue building.
At a recent council meeting, Kilmer moved to cease all work on the animal control building, pay off the bond and find a way to fund the building internally pending budget meetings.
That motion died when no one seconded it.
"I understand the sentiment," Chairwoman Tina Kelley said, "but I would hate to see this council put the county in jeopardy in any way."
The council voted to hear the item on its next agenda, allowing time for its bond counsel to advise on the ramifications of returning the bond or delaying construction.
While exploring options, the council has incurred $134,000 in expenses that may have to be paid back if the council decides to return the bond. Closing costs, attorney fees, architectural fees and ordering the metal building have contributed to the costs to date.
"That raises some eyebrows," Kilmer said. "It is starting to become very alarming to me."
"I am surprised we have spent how much we already have spent," said Councilman Lyle Nelson.
The costs could escalate to almost $700,000, Nelson said, when he was more comfortable spending $300,000.
"I am concerned about the total cost. This process has revealed things we truly didn't understand in February."
When the county advertised for a contractor, the ad failed to include the requirement that workers must be paid Davis-Bacon Act wages.
Because the bond requires such wages, it could add at least another $33,000 in expenses not included in the original bid.
Kilmer said he believes the county could afford only a $400,000 project.
For almost a year now, Councilman Ned Mecham has opposed the project, saying it is unwise to go into debt for 25 years. He renewed his opposition, saying, "It is absolutely crazy" to go into debt now.
Kilmer said the council should cease moving slowly on the project because "people's livelihoods are hanging in the balance."
"This is people's winter work. You are doing an injustice stringing the contractor on and the community not knowing how we're going to fund this. It is a mistake to keep dragging this on."
Kilmer said he is worried the county won't have enough money to make the yearly payments.
The first $40,000 annual payment on the bond is due in January, and the bond bank expected the building to be finished by then to provide collateral.
Kilmer said it is too late into the year to start major construction.
"We'll need to get ahold of your lender," said bond counsel Erick Johnson.
"The county will have to wrestle with a state statute. If you don't begin construction before Jan. 1, that needs to be dealt with."