Mayor Palmer DePaulis wants to hold a contest and invite the public to help find private office space for the Salt Lake City Council in the restored City-County Building.

"I think we should go out and solicit public help on this. We could have the public send in their favorite charts," DePaulis said. "The newspapers could help. You know, a clip-and-save, mail-this-back-in-coupon: `You take a crack at finding offices for the City Council.' "The mayor's joking comments came Friday as he turned down the latest compromise plan from council members to find office space for themselves.

The plan provides only five offices for the seven council members, and all of the offices would have access problems. Councilman Alan Hardman, who suggested the compromise, volunteered to go without one.

"I appreciate their willingness to try and find private offices for themselves, but even the latest plan is unacceptable to me," DePaulis said. "They've given the city two conference rooms in the middle of their work space. It's a totally unworkable plan."

Because the historic building was built with 18-foot high ceilings and wide-open, ceremonial rooms, private space is at a premium throughout the building.

Originally, members of the part-time council agreed that they could work out of cubicles, while their full-time staff would use the three private offices in the space. Already, the seven council members and their six employees are allocated half a floor, while the city's other 237 employees are crammed into the remaining 31/2 floors.

DePaulis has dismissed several options the council has proposed, either because the proposals were unworkable or used too much space needed by the rest of the city employees. As mayor, he has authority to make specific decisions regarding the renovation project, paid for with a $34.5 million bond issue.

Council members Hardman, Florence Bittner, L. Wayne Horrocks and Willie Stoler continue to vote in favor of private offices, saying elected officials need them. Hardman has said he doesn't want to spend any money for them and that he will go without one. Stoler has said he's willing to work out of an orange crate in a hall somewhere.

Council members Sydney Fonnesbeck, Roselyn Kirk and Tom Godfrey are opposed to the plan, and have blasted it as elitist and unnecessary. They say as part-time officials they don't need private offices but would rather have more conference space to meet with residents. They are also worried about the perception of privilege taxpayers now have about the council.

"Here we're facing incredible problems dealing with the development of Block 57 and the development of the (city's) northwest quadrant, and we spend hours arguing over offices for ourselves," Fonnesbeck said. "Personally, in eight years I have never felt the need for private offices."