The legality of the $20.6 million budget to build a new county judicial complex was challenged Monday by Davis County Commissioner William "Dub" Lawrence.
Lawrence said a 2-1 commission vote March 22 approving the budget violates a state statute requiring an increase in a project's budget be approved unanimously. Lawrence said he wants a legal opinion on the budget from the county attorney.After a long discussion at the March 22 meeting, commissioners William Peters and Gayle Stevenson voted to approve the $20.6 million budget, with Lawrence voting against it.
Voters approved an $18.5 million bond sale in November 1987 to build the new jail, court complex, and sheriff's office in West Farmington. An additional $1.5 million has been generated by interest earned on the bond money and county financial analysts estimate the bond money will earn $500,000 more before it is spent.
Lawrence maintained at the March meeting that the project should be kept within the $18.5 million approved by voters.
Stevenson and Peters, after a long debate with Lawrence, agreed to word the motion to try to keep the project within an $18.5 million budget, using the projected interest earnings as a contingency fund.
The commission last week opened bids on the jail project from eight general contractors. Bids on the basic construction project ranged from $13,528,000 to $14,474,000.
Portions of the project, such as landscaping, paving, carpeting and an environmental control system in the building, were bid separately and the commissioners are still reviewing the bids before awarding the project.
Peters said after Monday's commission meeting he believes that with careful negotiations the county can build the jail project under the $18.5 million estimate.
Lawrence's objection came on a request by proj-ect supervisor Joe Rhoads to hire a consultant to negotiate with the Central Davis Sewer District on where the sewer line to serve the jail should be built and the amount of hookup fees the county will pay.
Rhoads asked that consultant Gene Toolson be hired at $20 an hour, up to a maximum of $10,000, to negotiate with the district. Challenged by Lawrence, Rhoads said the construction budget approved March 22 contains $196,000 for sanitary sewer work.
At that point, Lawrence raised his objection. The request to hire a consultant, along with two other agenda items related to the jail's construction, were tabled by the commission pending a resolution of the conflict.