Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis said Friday he won't give up any additional space in the restored City-County Building to outfit the City Council with private offices.
"I can save $60,000 in my general fund budget by using that space. It had been unassigned until this whole thing came up," DePaulis said."I just don't believe at this point on the merits that there is a solution short of costing a great deal of money and moving fewer people back into the building."
Council members, in heated arguments, have been squabbling about private offices for more than a month.
The whole process has the flair of a game of musical chairs, with the council considering replacing some city departments, stealing space from others and effectively altering space plans throughout the City-County Building. Estimated construction costs have ranged from a high of $100,000 to a low of $2,000.
The issue has been raised because the city's historic headquarters, now under renovation in its entirety for the first time since it was built in 1894, has 18-foot high ceilings and wide-open, ceremonial rooms. Few private offices were designed in the building.
The three-year project scheduled for completion next spring was designed to restore the City-County Building to its turn-of-the-century grandeur, clearing away the clutter of years of piecemeal remodeling.
The council has been considering converting two conference rooms planned for use by the city staff into private council members' offices. One plan wouldn't require any additional construction funds but would only provide five offices. Already some full-time city employees are angry about the amount of space the elected officials have claimed in the building.
"It's inconceivable to me that they would take those two rooms," DePaulis said. "It expands their space more, and it doesn't solve a problem. It doesn't give everyone private offices. I was thinking today that maybe it was an April Fools' joke all along."
The council approved a $34.5 million bond issue in 1986 to restore the building, and since that decision was made, the specifics of the restoration belong to the mayor.
"I don't know if the council knows that," admitted council Chairman Tom Godfrey.
DePaulis said he hasn't wanted to throw the weight of that authority around and dictate to the council, causing a rift between the city's executive and legislative branches, so he has directed his staff to consider space planning options.
The space originally designed for the council on the north end of the third floor allocates each of the seven part-time council members a movable work station. The three private offices in the quadrant were for the council's full-time staff.
But when some council members saw the plans, they decided the nature of their city duties requires more privacy than cubicles could provide.