The city's new municipal building is nearingcompletion, and officials say they hope to be in the building by mid-January or early February at the latest.

Work on the nearly $427,000 project, which began in mid-May, was expected to take six months, but the extremely cold weather has slowed construction.City Recorder Gary Lewis said work on the building, 200 N. Center, is expected to be finished in the next two weeks, but that the city does not want to rush the project.

"It's at least 10 days away from being completed, but we're not going to push construction any faster than that. If it takes us until the end of February to have the building completed and be located there, then that's how long it will take."

The new building will house the city's administrative departments, including Lehi's billing departments, the city recorder's office and administrative secretaries and clerks, as well as a new City Council chamber. The project is at the site of the city's old junior high school and will be alongside Lehi's public safety building, which was completed in 1989.

Initially, the project seemed to be on shaky ground when disagreements arose between members of the City Council and Mayor Guy Cash, who told the council he preferred to see the administrative offices located within the city's old Memorial Building, 51 N. Center, including having the building remodeled and restored for about $315,000.

Cash declined to sign the initial bid for the project, originally estimated at $447,800, in February, though the council voted 4-1 to accept a lowered bid of $419,000.

"I just don't think they looked into the pocketbook when they made this decision," Cash said at the time. "I just don't think it's good economics and I don't think it's good politics."

With the restoration, the Memorial Building could have housed the city's Hutchings Museum, including providing more space for an arts center, as well as the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum. However, council members told Cash that they did not believe the renovation would adequately meet the needs of the community and that they believed the feasibility study on the restoration did not accurately reflect the true costs of the project.

In the meantime, the originally accepted bid expired and was withdrawn by the contractor, and a $448,821 bid was submitted. Councilman Keith Jenkins worked with contractors to lower costs to the current figure.

In May, Cash relented and signed the contract after the council began a motion to appoint a pro-tem mayor to sign the contract. Also, a citizen's group presented a 600-signature petition calling for restoration of the Memorial Building.

Cooper/Roberts Architects is again performing feasibility studies on renovating the building, and the city has set aside $50,000 in capital improvements funds, as well as proceeds from its new recycling program, to aid in the project.