MORGAN -- The Morgan County Council has a bad case of buyer's remorse, so even though it has already spent nearly $100,000 to build an animal control facility, the council will return a bond and scrap current plans.
The council unanimously voted to halt all work on the project, pay all outstanding debts to architects and contractors, and return a $600,000 bond. The council has already spent $95,200 for the project.
"The budget is extremely tight this year. Right now there is no way to make the numbers work," said Councilman Ned Mecham, who opposed incurring the debt since taking his seat on the council in January 2011. "There is no way the county can do it."
Bond officials said the county is in uncharted territory to return a bond.
"This is novel enough that there is no prepared direction on how to handle it," said Eric Johnson, the county's bond counsel. "This is a tough decision."
The move will help the county avoid a $40,000 annual payment due Jan. 1 and similar yearly payments for the next 25 years.
However, the county has already spent money on the project.
"I have a real concern we have wasted almost 100 grand," Mecham said.
Councilwoman Ronda Kippen, who made the motion, said the money was not entirely wasted, as the county officially purchased the architectural drawings, which could be used in the future.
Stacy Lafitte, county clerk/auditor, said most of the money spent on the project so far has come from the sheriff's budget of the 2011 general fund rather than from the $600,000 bond. So far, she said, the county has spent $43,000 in architectural and legal fees.
"We've been spending our own money," she said.
Although the metal building for the project valued at around $79,000 was ordered, only $2,200 has been spent by the contractor. The council agreed to pay the $2,200.
In 2010, $18,000 was taken out of the bond to pay closing costs. Since, $27,000 in interest has accrued.
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 shortly before his August 2010 resignation.
The board awarded $600,000 to the county in November 2010. Using CIB funds qualified the project for federal Build America Bonds, which translate into an interest rate of around 2.9 percent.
It's possible the board would forgive the $27,000 in interest, but some council members were doubtful.
"As much as the county has gone back and forth (on this project), I'm not counting on their benevolence," Council Chairwoman Tina Kelley said. "They have other applicants that could use the money."
The county may owe Design West, the county's architect on the project, as much as $5,000 for services already rendered but not yet billed.
Of the $95,200 total, the county may have to come up with $52,200. The council plans to address the repayment during budget hearings.