BOUNTIFUL—The citizens group hoping to place the issue of a new city hall complex in Bountiful on the municipal election ballot this November is nearing the deadline for collecting signatures on petitions.
Volunteers for the “Better Bountiful” committee need to collect signatures by this coming Saturday, Jan. 7, for submission to the city. The petitions need to be signed by Bountiful residents of voting age who want the question of whether the city should build a new city hall on the site of Stoker School put on the ballot. At least 2,500 signatures are required, and the group is working to collect many more than that number. The Referendum Petition signatures will be submitted to City Recorder Shawna Andrus, who will then turn them over to the Davis County clerk’s office for verification.
“Under Utah law, the making or challenging of laws, masterplans, resolutions, and other similar matters is in the hands of the people,” said Dean Collinwood, one of the co-sponsors. “Such matters can be handled by the City Council, or they can be handled directly by the people in the form of voter initiatives and referenda.”
The committee had 40 days to gather signatures. Packets with forms for 25 signatures each have been distributed and collected throughout the city, and Ken Knighton, owner of K & J Auto in Bountiful, said his business will be open this Thursday, Friday and Saturday for those who would like to sign the petition before the group’s deadline. K & J Auto is located at 310 S. Main in Bountiful.
When those signatures are verified by the Davis County clerk, the group hopes the city hall and plaza plan can be put on hold until a vote is taken in November.
“As we’ve circulated the petitions, I’d say at least 95 percent of those we’ve talked to oppose the new city hall plan,” Knighton said. “The petitions aren’t asking voters to take a stand for or against the plan, just to get their approval for turning this decision over to the residents of Bountiful to vote on.”
The new city hall plan, which includes demolishing Stoker School and building commercial buildings and a bus station on the current city hall campus, was approved by the Bountiful City Council in November. Collinwood said he doesn’t want the city to lose some valuable assets it already has, including two recreational sport playing fields (one at Stoker, the other at the current city hall site), or to spend an estimated $13-15 million from Bountiful’s “rainy day” fund on the new complex, which would include both a city hall and a city plaza on the Stoker site.
“There’s very little net gain if any from doing this,” he said. “There has to be a real benefit to spending that kind of money and making that kind of move. We know that we’ll lose Stoker School, lose the University of Utah extension, and possibly the library.”
The committee said that once the signatures are gathered and verified, city administrators can either accept the petitions and put the issue on the November ballot, or reject them, citing the vote to approve by the council was an administrative, rather than a legislative, decision. A final decision on acceptance or rejection could come before the end of January, Collinwood said.