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Logan 'Makeover' didn't come free

Published December 1, 2006 2:37 am

Some are concerned that the city picked up part of the tab
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

LOGAN - Janet Pauni's family members are comfortably settled into their new home - thanks to ABC's "Extreme Makeover" show, dozens of business contributions, hundreds of volunteers and, it turns out, Logan taxpayers.

Records show the city spent more than $13,000, not counting labor, to help tear down the Paunis' former house at 1085 N. 400 East and replace it with a new one - all in a week in late October - complete with fresh furnishings, a commercial kitchen and spruced-up landscaping.

"There's no question that there were costs incurred," city Finance Director Rich Anderson said. "I'm sure that every department was affected in some way."

Not everyone is pleased with that fact.

Jon Anderson, a Providence plumber, said he has a list of complaints about Logan using public dollars to help some businesses, but not others. And he is not happy about tapping taxpayer funds for the "The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" project either.

"Taxes shouldn't be used on that," he said. "If it's going to be done, it ought to be done on donations."

Most of the costs were contributed. City Attorney Kymber Housley said several city employees - from public works, public safety and parks and recreation - used vacation days to help with the project. Many of the city's salaried employees simply worked longer hours than usual.

Hard costs - such as $5,171 for environmental fees, $3,404 for curb and gutter and $3,010 for permits - will be reimbursed to city departments through affordable-housing funds, Housley said.

"None of this money is coming out of the general fund," Housley said. "This is money that is specifically set aside for affordable housing and can only be used for that."

The housing funds are awarded not on the size or cost of a home but on the family's income.

"If the family income is within 80 percent of the county's median income, they can qualify for these subsidies," Housley explained.

The Pauni family moved from Tonga about 15 years ago in search of a better life. Danny Pauni died of a heart attack in 2004. Since his death, his widow, Janet, eight children and a nephew have struggled.

City Councilman Steve Thompson said seeing the community unite to help a family in need made the project worth the expense.

"In the past 11 years that I've been on the City Council, we have allocated money to help renovate the kitchen at the senior citizen center [and] allocated money for housing needs for numerous projects," Thompson said. "This is what cities do."

Thompson said residents should remember that everyone involved in the home makeover did a good thing. "I believe that the city's involvement and the city's allocation of this funding was the right thing to do."

Mayor Randy Watts points to the positive message the nationwide telecast sent about his city and Utah.

abrunson@sltrib.com

'Makeover' tab for Logan

* $5,171 for environmental costs such as landfill fees.

* $3,404 for public works, including curb and gutter.

* $3,010 for permit fees and materials.

* $1,641 for utility upgrade.

Source: City of Logan