By settling the bill from Turner Construction Co. for the Duval County Courthouse for the contract’s guaranteed maximum price, $1.2 million of the $350 million overall budget may be used for additional work at the former federal courthouse.
All indications are that City Council will consider on Tuesday emergency legislation — bill 2014-408 — to designate the funds be used for additional renovation of the building in the block east of the courthouse. The building will be occupied by the State Attorney’s Office beginning in December.
During the final meeting of the council’s Courthouse Oversight Special Committee, city Public Works Director Jim Robinson said based on advice from the Office of General Counsel, the city paid Turner to avoid possible litigation over the project.
According to a May 2 memorandum sent to city Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton from Senior Project Manager David Schneider requesting payment to the contractor, the total amount remitted to Turner for the courthouse project was $178,979,728.20.
Robinson said the building is “operating in acceptable fashion” and by paying Turner the maximum amount allowed in the contract, the city “avoided years of litigation” that would have ultimately put the project over its budget.
Another advantage, he said, is that settling the bill freed funds remaining in the budget that can be used to build out a portion of the ground floor of the State Attorney’s Office to accommodate diversion and domestic violence programs. They were originally slated to be in the Ed Ball Building, two blocks from the office space under construction.
Also unspent in the budget is more than $93,000 of the funds allocated for furniture in the courthouse.
Chief Judge Donald Moran asked if some of those remaining funds could be used to replace armchairs used by bailiffs assigned to the criminal and county courtrooms, which Moran said have been damaged by the sidearm holsters and handcuffs worn by the bailiffs.
“It’s not their fault, but it’s damaging the chairs,” said Moran.