NORTH OGDEN — Residents will get the chance to vote on whether the city should pay for a new public works complex with up to $7 million in revenue bonds.
Mainly in objection to what was viewed as the city’s plans to spend that much money for the complex, nearly 3,000 North Ogden residents signed petitions last fall to put the issue on the ballot.
The council has unanimously approved a June 26 referendum.
The vote is the latest development in the contentious history of the proposed complex. Disputes over its location and cost have been ongoing.
In addition to the June vote, the council is also considering whether to hold a November referendum on whether a general obligation bond should be used to build the complex.
Repayment of a revenue bond is guaranteed by money generated by a specified revenue-generating entity. A general obligation bond is secured by the government’s pledge to use available resources, including tax revenues, to repay bondholders.
The council considered putting both questions on the June ballot but decided it might be too confusing for voters.
City Recorder Annette Spendlove said she did not think there would be enough time to have all the public hearings and information needed to put the general obligation bond on the June ballot.
There had been talk by the new council that perhaps a vote would not be needed once a new public works committee was appointed and more residents were brought up to speed on the process.
However, both Spendlove and City Attorney Dave Carlson said the city is bound by the petition and that a vote is needed before the city can move forward with the complex, even though the current council has previously said it would not approve spending $7 million.
The council now faces an interesting situation, because it has to approve a “for” argument for the voter pamphlet, but two members of the council, Justin Fawson and Kent Bailey, spearheaded the petition to get the issue on the ballot, meaning they would also be a part of writing the “against” statement to not pass the measure.
Carlson said the city can look at the “for” statement that was written in the fall when the city was trying to rush to get the item on the November ballot.
The council sat silently at Carlson’s suggestion.
Councilman Dave Hulme said the measure could pass, as some of the council members feel confident that residents now trust how they will handle the building of the complex.
Councilman Wade Bigler said that, if the committee and the council kept residents informed through the entire process, a majority of residents would be satisfied.
“A majority of residents didn’t say anything, just to be clear,” Hulme said.
The majority that several council members have been referring to isn’t quite 20 percent of residents, he said.
The council took no action regarding a general obligation bond.
Council members want to go forward with the June vote and start deciding on the language for the ballot as well as the language for the voter information pamphlet.
Once the public works committee, to be appointed by Mayor Richard Harris, is up and running, a decision will be made regarding a general obligation bond.