A tie-breaking vote by the mayor was needed when the Layton City Council last week set itself up as a building authority to pursue plans to construct a new municipal building and court complex.
Two council members voted against the proposal and one was absent, forcing Mayor Richard McKenzie to cast the deciding vote.After the approval, Councilman Gerald Nebeker said he still opposes the move and wished to disassociate himself from it. Nebeker said he does not want to be listed as one of the building authority's incorporators or trustees, asking that his name be removed from the legal documents.
That request sent city attorney Mark Arnold scrambling through his law books to see if Nebeker could disassociate himself from the authority, formed by a majority vote of the council.
Arnold, after several minutes of research, said he believes once the authority is formed by the council, individual council members are required to serve on it, opposed or not.
Nebeker was joined in his opposition by Councilman LeGrande Simmons. Voting for the authority's formation were Bob Stevenson and Kent Smith, with Jerry Stevenson absent.
The building authority has the legal right to sell revenue bonds in the city's name, pledging future revenue from property taxes or utility funds to pay off the bonds.
Although the council has not drawn up formal plans for a new municipal building and court complex, it has been studying the concept for nearly a year. The next step, hiring an architect, requires funding.
The building authority can acquire financing and sign a contract for architectural services, City Manager Bruce Barton said.
"I wish to go on record as being opposed, both to the creation of the building authority and to the interim financing," Nebeker said before the vote was taken.
"I'm not sure it's appropriate and I'm not convinced that financing through a building authority is the proper way to go," he said.
The more common method of financing major capital improvements, such as a new city hall, is through a general obligation bond issue, approved by the voters in a bond election.
Nebeker and Simmons both indicated they believe the city should get voter approval before committing to the expense of a new city hall.
One resident in the audience at the council meeting questioned whether establishing itself as a building authority would allow the council to approve spending money for a new city hall without holding an election. McKenzie agreed it would.
"As a citizen, I would oppose that," said Gary Hatch. "I feel that's something the citizens should retain, the right to vote on something like that. I see the council forming a building authority that can spend major amounts of money without going back to the residents, and that's inappropriate."
Barton pointed out that under state law, a city council, also can approve the sale of revenue bonds. But by setting itself up as a building authority, the same bonds will sell at a cheaper interest rate.
"It's an anomaly, really, under state law," Barton said. "A building authority is actually nothing more than a financial instrument. After the project is done, it usually dissolves itself."
The new complex would replace the current city hall, a complex of post-World War II buildings.