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The Army Corps of Engineers will open an area office in Salt Lake City as part of its expanding workload in Utah, despite claims such a move will waste money.

A letter detailing the complaints was sent to the Corps Sacramento District, which oversees Corps operation at Hill Air Force Base. It said a Salt Lake-area office is unneeded and will duplicate services offered by an office at Hill Air Force Base.The letter, said Jim Fast of the Sacramento office, was signed by several employees in the Hill office. But he said it had not changed any minds about the need for the additional office.

"We do plan to open an office in Salt Lake City because we have some new work, and we're trying to keep up with an expanded workload," said Fast, assistant chief of the construction operations division.

He said the letter was based on "a lot of rumor," and that Hill Corps employees were concerned they would be forced to move to Salt Lake City.

"We certainly never intended a wholesale move of people at Hill. Some of the expertise we have at Hill could be asked to relocate, but not a significant part of the office," Fast said.

The letter says the Hill office recently underwent a $300,000 expansion and has room to accommodate an area office.

The letter also states that opening a Salt Lake office will require duplication of services such as separate filing systems, copying machines, computer terminals, office furniture and other items.

But Bob Smith, resident engineer at the Hill office, said the Salt Lake office would not be a waste of tax dollars, although he acknowledged it will require some duplication.

"The Corps has massively increased its workload in Utah. We're to the point where we can't manage statewide operations out of the office at Hill," he said.

Smith, who said he knew some employees had concerns and had written the letter, said projects such as the $35 million Consolidated Maintenance Facility at Tooele Army Depot and the $50 million Little Dell Dam project east of Salt Lake City have shifted the focus of the Corps workload away from Hill.

"One or two people used to handle the Tooele workload. Now we'll need seven or eight. We'll probably need 25 people for the Little Dell project," he said.