Tallahassee, FL - Pieces of cement trim for the 49 million dollar court house, six miles east of the state Capitol, were still arriving Monday. Landscapers tossed pine straw around the grounds, preparing for the building’s opening.
Dubbed the Taj Mahal for its opulence, which includes granite counter tops and large flat screen TV’s, the pricey structure cost almost twice as much to build as the new Department of Revenue building across the street. It was an issue CFO Alex Sink raised when discussing an audit of the building last week.
“What stands out to me is the appalling lack of leadership by the responsible parties throughout this entire process,” Sink said. “The fact that no one was standing up to say, ‘what about the taxpayers?’”
When complete, this courthouse will be 112,000 square feet and will house only 120 people.
Staff in the agency responsible for the construction spent the weekend drafting a response to the audit. Agency Director Linda South says she will not resign as requested by the incoming Senate President.
Indeed, South says the blame lies at the feet of legislative leaders, who raided an injured workers trust fund to give the court the money it wanted.”
One of those leaders was then House Speaker Marco Rubio, who, according to an email between judges, was part of a highly successful meeting in 2008 that increased funding for the court.
In addition to opening the nearly 50 million dollar courthouse, the old courthouse will see 12 million in renovations before it is turned over to the law school at Florida State University.