One of the issues on the ballot for North Ogden this primary election is a ‘yes or no’ vote on a proposed $7 million bond to build a new public works complex. All five North Ogden City Councilmen agree that something must be done. Councilwoman Cheryl Stoker said, “There is a need for a new building. The employee's need to be safe and have a functioning facility to work at. Four of the five current city council members for North Ogden put a great deal of effort into bringing the proposed bond for the public works complex to a citizen vote, citing their conviction that the bond was much too high.
The lone councilman that supports the passing of the bond is Dave Hulme. He says, “I support voting ‘for’ the proposition… Since the majority of the current council is on the record supporting spending significantly less than that figure, I think residents should feel comfortable giving them access to the best tool available to finance the complex.”
However, there are concerns about what would happen if the bond were passed. Councilman Kent Bailey quotes the document submitted to the city as arguments against the bond, “This bond proposal gives complete financial control of this project to the mayor and city finance director effectively removing the city council from one of their primary responsibilities.”
Bailey further declares, “I feel that it is important that we approach this methodically and carefully balance our needs against what we can afford to do. I highly prefer that we meet our needs without bonding or incurring any other form of debt if at all possible, but I'm willing to consider using revenue bonds if the cost is higher than we can otherwise pay for. I also think we need to seriously investigate how we can upgrade and expand facilities at their current location before purchasing new property.”
Councilman Justin Fawson said, “We have already asked for a new PW Committee and I have recommended members of our community who would represent the desires of residents who signed the petitions last year… Based on comparisons we've seen for PW facilities in other cities, I'm convinced that a functional, long-lasting facility can be built at a much lower cost than currently proposed…I also believe that the city council needs more oversight of the project and residents would be better off voting 'no' to giving complete financial control of the project to the mayor and city finance director.”
Councilman Wade Bigler spent a great deal of time touring such facilities in other Utah cities. He also researched costs of doing such a project in cities comparable in size to North Ogden. He maintained that the proposed cost of this project far surpassed that of any of those cities he examined. He was instrumental in sharing concerns of many citizens and helping bring about the eventual acceptance of a petition to get the issue on the ballot.
Although Mayor Harris did not respond to requests asking for his position on the bond vote, it was evident last year that he favored this bond and a higher one.
Editor’s Note: Early August of last year, the Sentinel News paid for a mailer indicating concern for the then proposed 9.5 million dollar bond. Based on information we had received, we reported that the 9.5 million was: “More than doubling the cost of the state of the art facility created to service all of Salt Lake County.” We subsequently learned that the Salt Lake County facility did not have all of the functions as were then being proposed for the North Ogden facility.
Note: The bond did not pass with 73% voting against, and 23% for.