The rebuilding of Orchard Drive in Bountiful cropped up again at the Wasatch Front Regional Council's Transportation Coordinating Committee meeting, irritating Sandy Mayor Steve Newton and sparking an hourlong scrap over the project's cost overruns.
Newton was angry the project appeared on the committee's agenda recently, saying the entire council voted last month not to give the project any extra money and that bringing it up again violates the group's policy.Committee chairman Robert DeBoer said the project was placed on the agenda in proper order because a report on its funding was requested from the group's technical committee.
Newton in March led a fight to block additional funding for the project, saying it was eating up federal road-repair money that should go to other projects.
Bountiful City Engineer Jack Balling told the transportation committee in March the $1.8 million budget for the road's reconstruction is not enough and unforeseen complications will push the project's price up an additional $500,000.
Newton said the committee's policy allows a 10 percent cost overrun on engineering estimates but anything over that requires the project to go back into the pool of other proposals and compete for funding.
The Sandy mayor's position prevailed in the subsequent council meeting, with the members voting to give Bountiful its originally requested $1.8 million but not the additional $500,000.
Newton also said Bountiful City Manager Tom Hardy agreed at the meeting that if the $1.8 million were approved he would not ask again for the additional $500,000, an agreement Newton said is being violated, along with the committee's policy.
"We're taking a policy that we worked on for a year and now when we face our first tough case, when we have to say no to someone, we're looking at abandoning it," Newton said.
"I want to get away from the old way of doing things, which was to adopt a project whatever it costs to do it," the mayor said. "It's a more responsible policy to act as a granting agency, to evaluate a project against the others, give it a little leeway in funding, and act responsibly to the public."
DeBoer, however, said the committee asked its staff at its meeting last month to determine what effect the additional $500,000 would have on other scheduled projects and the staff response was rightfully put on the agenda.
And, DeBoer said, the committee wrote the policy and has the right to interpret it in guiding its actions.
Doug Hattery, council technical committee staff member, said if the $500,000 is given to Bountiful, at least one project, probably the rebuilding of 72nd South in Midvale, would be pushed back to 1991.
The committee is already committed to $2 million more in projects than it has budgeted over the next four years, he said, and funding the Orchard Drive project would put that to $2.5 million.
Newton said adoption of the policy, discussed and negotiated for more than a year, was meant to turn the committee's philosophy on funding road projects around, stopping the type of practices that caused it to be overcommitted by $2 million.
After more than an hour of often heated debate, the committee agreed to table the issue of the Bountiful project's funding until its next meeting and ask for a legal interpretation of its funding policy.