Construction on the new state attorney's office begins this October, and the council is trying to decide if they should set aside money.
Jacksonville’s Chief Financial Officer Ronnie Belton says he wants to put aside $28 million for the office and an extra $2 million for contingency.
He says that “sensible number” is based on a prediction of the “range” of the cost.
“The architectural numbers are not back yet,” Belton said. “When we see what that looks like we’re thinking it’s going to be less than that amount…I put the legislation in for thirty million dollars to make sure that when it came time to build out this facility we would have enough money available.”
Belton added that the money can be moved back because the City Council approves of what he spends.
State Attorney Angela Corey wants to make sure that, after all that has happened with the new Duval County courthouse project, she doesn’t get shorted on funds for her new office.
She said she wants to be informed of every step of the process.
“Because you don’t understand our daily needs the same way I understand our daily needs,” Corey said. “We aren’t looking to spend an entire amount of money set aside. We just need what we need to do our jobs efficiently for this city, and that’s what we hope to do.”
“We just want to stay plugged into the process and to work with the city to make sure that – because of everything else that’s gone on and because we are the last of the unified project to be handled – that we don’t get, literally, the short end of the stick. It would be completely unfair.”
Incoming City Council president Bill Bishop said he doesn’t want the council to keep having to lock money away and take it out again.
“I don’t support a lot of back and forth movement of this thing because that makes it look like we’re complicit in this stuff and we’re not. I won’t let that happen,” Bishop said.
He added his opinion of the matter: “If you want us to pass an ordinance to set aside a certain amount of money for the project, I don’t want to see any of it moved until I know what the project is costing me.”
Ronnie Belton said they should take it on a “day by day” basis.
Debate over reserving funds for the new state attorney's office has begun in the City Council. Construction set to begin in October.