Salt Lake County Council delays vote on D.A. building
Politics • Decision delayed again after closed-door meeting.
Published: April 2, 2013 06:20PM
Updated: April 3, 2013 09:37AM

Salt Lake County Council members announced after a 20-minute closed session Tuesday that they have again postponed a decision on a new home for the district attorney’s office.

When the doors again opened to the public, Councilman Max Burdick joked openly that it was all his fault.

“I can’t make up my mind,” he said, drawing polite laughter.

The nine-person council then voted to delay the discussion on the building project and the eventual decision — with projected costs from $45 million to $51 million — to a later date.

Burdick emerged as a “swing vote” at the last meeting, which had four Democrats for and four Republicans against a proposed 5½-story structure at 600 S. State St. in Salt Lake City.

Burdick would not vote to break the tie last week and asked for another week to review the complicated numbers associated with the proposed “net zero” energy- consumption building.

There was no vote this time. Just the closed-session discussion followed by the announcement a decision was being pushed back.

“You might be concerned about all of the lobbying that might be going on behind the scenes for my vote,” Burdick said in an interview after Tuesday’s meeting. “I am open to listen to everybody. To have another week to think about it is better for me and better for the project. I really want to verify what the real numbers are for the project. I keep learning about all the extra things this building would involve — things that have not been talked about like bullet-proof glass.”

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his role is to be patient, answer questions and let the council make a decision. But he is quick to point out that the delay for a new home.

“I’m not the first district attorney to talk about this. Dave Yocom wanted this building [more than a decade ago], and it would have cost about$5 million,” Gill said. “To put it roughly, not making a decision costs us about $30,000 a week. It is a policy decision, but once they have made that decision how long do you want to wait because there is a cost tied to this.”

The Republican members of the council believe money could be saved by constructing a LEED gold standard building with an estimated cost of $217 per-square-foot compared to $346 per-square-foot for the “net zero” energy-consumption building. Democrats believe the operational savings associated with the higher priced building would make up the cost difference over time.

Gill believes a decision will come from the council within the next three weeks.