In a continuing effort to carve private offices out of the historic City-County Building, the Salt Lake City Council has whittled its options to just three.
The council's lack of a clear-cut decision during the special meeting called Tuesday just to decide the issue still provided enough direction, said Project Manager Larry Migliaccio. The building renovation proj-ect will no longer be slowed by the debate.The city issued a $34.5 million bond to renovate the City-County Building in 1986, with the project scheduled for completion next spring. The office space battle erupted because the building, completed in 1894, was designed for ceremonial use, with large rooms and 18-foot ceilings. The entire building has only 47 private offices, divided among eight city departments.
The private office discussion began one month ago when three council members saw the plans for their space and said cubicles wouldn't be appropriate to house elected officials. council members Florence Bittner, L. Wayne Horrocks and Willie Stoler say the nature of their city business requires privacy.
But council members Sydney Fonnesbeck, Tom Godfrey and Roselyn Kirk are in favor of leaving the space as planned. They say that as part-time elected officials, they won't use the offices enough to justify the added expense. The city's full-time employees need the space more than they do.
Councilman Alan Hardman is the swing vote. He thinks the council should have private offices, but he doesn't want any money spent on the plan. And, as one of the newest council members, he has volunteered to go without one.
The price tag for providing privacy has ranged from $2,000 to $60,000. But each of the options has drawbacks.
One would split the seven council members on separate floors and separate at least three council offices from their staff offices and public reception space. That plan would cost $2,000 for construction. According to Phil Erickson, of the mayor's staff, it would also cost an additional $60,000 from the city's general fund budget to pay for employees displaced by the council's offices, to renovate space to house those employees elsewhere and to hire the additional employee that will be needed if all the city's cashiers aren't located together.
Another option, proposed by Hardman, wouldn't cost anything in construction funds, but would only create five offices. Both options would steal conference rooms now planned for use by the entire city work force in a building Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis terms "conference-space short."
The third option is to keep the space as planned, with the council working out of cubicles and using adjacent conference rooms for private meetings.
DePaulis is opposed to providing private offices for the council, saying the space the council appropriates in the building means more city employees will have to be housed in rented space elsewhere.
The council has already expanded its space to half the third floor of the building. Plans now call for council members to have 103 square feet of space apiece, while full-time city employees only average 75 to 81 square feet.