KAYSVILLE -- The third time seems to be the charm for a group of Kaysville residents trying to submit three petition initiatives to make what they believe would be positive changes to their city government.
Although city officials find the language in the petitions to be "deficient" -- the reason for two prior rejections of the application -- based on the advice of legal counsel Felshaw King, the city decided Friday to accept the initiatives.
"Accordingly, we recommend that you (City Recorder Linda Ross) accept all applications, with the understanding that you deem them to contain serious flaws and that acceptance does not in any way constitute approval or recommendation," King said in a letter to the city issued Friday.
The letter is in response to Kaysville Citizens for Responsible Government on Thursday resubmitting three separate initiative petitions to Ross.
The citizens group in its application letter requested the fiscal impact analysis on what the initiatives will cost voters be completed no later than March 30, to allow the group time to collect the 1,177 signatures needed by April 15 to place the measures on the November ballot.
The petitions call for changing to a strong mayor form of government; to district geographically five of its six council seats; and to restrict revenues of the Kaysville Power Department solely to the operation of that department.
King twice rejected the petitions based on the language's not being in compliance with Utah law.
"Although not required to do so, the city has made a good-faith effort to meet with the sponsors (citizens group) and their attorney to make recommendations and suggestions to put the applications in proper legal form to be accepted by the city," King stated in his letter.
But members of the citizens group say it is they who have jumped through hoops in addressing the city's concerns.
The applications have gone through five revisions, the last coming Tuesday after the group and its attorney spent 90 minutes with King on Monday going over the application wording, said Orwin Draney, a member of the citizens group.
Draney said he suspects the two previous rejections by the city could be a stalling tactic to prevent the group from getting the needed signatures in time to place the measures on the November ballot.
"From step one in this process, Kaysville city has gone above and beyond its responsibility to respond to these petitions in an efficient and responsible manner," Mayor Steve Hiatt said.
"With each initiative submitted, Kaysville city notified the applicants of the legal deficiencies within 48 to 72 hours," Hiatt said.
"To now suggest Kaysville city has held up the constitutional right to bring initiatives to the voters is simply disingenuous and untrue," Hiatt said.
Richard Lenz, a member of the citizens group, said under state code the city does not have the right to reject the petitions on the front end of the application process. But the Kaysville resident remains confident the group still will be able to collect the signatures it needs.
If anything, the city's decision to reject the initiatives twice before has only added to the resolve and strength of their growing group, Lenz said.
City officials underestimated the group when the city sought a $4.5 million bond to build the new police station, Lenz said, implying the citizens group played a role in defeating the November 2010 bond request.
"If they think we have any less resolve in this manner, they are sadly mistaken," Lenz said.
"This does not need to be a personal issue," Hiatt said in response to Lenz's claim. "No one is underestimating this group's ability. Kaysville city attempted to assist them in correcting the petition's legal deficiencies so their efforts in collecting signatures would not be in vain."