JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News has exclusive new developments in the new courthouse that could mean more delays.
The new courthouse has been 12 years in the making. It's supposed to open May 29th, but we uncovered a new problem that could leave the courthouse sitting empty and dark a little longer. It's because of a letter obtained exclusively by Action News from Chief Judge Donald Moran. He now wants mediation. We went to the city for answers. "We see no reason right now not to expect to move in as planned. The furniture is acceptable," said Director of Communications David Decamp.
With so much of your tax dollars on the line, we went to see if the city would be open to mediation, but Decamp avoided the question. "The judge says it's not and he has the ultimate say. Could there be a delay," asked Action News reporter Catherine Varnum. "The mayor sees no reason why there'd be a delay with the furniture we have," said Decamp.
The fight is supposedly over 750 thousand dollars already in the budget for new furniture. Some say it's a political fight. The whole thing is just frustrating for taxpayers and for City Council Vice President Bill Bishop. "It's been a long torturous history from the beginning to where we are now," said Bishop.
In the letter the judge openly criticizes the mayor, saying he's refusing to fund the purchase of any new furniture and that he's failed to comply with a city ordinance. "We have furniture in place to open the courthouse," said Decamp.
Again, the mayor's office would only stick to that comment. While the bickering rages on, Councilman Bishop says there's a simple solution. "These guys have to have to figure it out, and get it done, and get the building open and be done with it," said Bishop.
There is just one more twist in this courthouse saga. City Council will look at a new bill filed Thursday by Kimberly Daniels. She wants city council to take the 750 thousand dollars out of the courthouse budget and put it in a budget specifically for new furniture. It would basically force the city to buy the new furniture, if it's approved.
We did try contacting the chief judge about his letter to the city council president. He never returned our call.