Council seeks answers on new courthouse

Committee hears why project consultant quit unexpectedly


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville's over-budget and long-delayed new $350 million courthouse came under fire again Monday.

Members of the courthouse oversight committee met to seek answers about the progress of the building, which is set to open in May.

Last month when it met, members learned the man hired by former Mayor John Peyton to bring the courthouse in line with a new budget and timeline quit. Sam Mousa resigned in January, saying his work was done.

PHOTOS: Courthouse under construction

That move surprised the oversight committee made up of City Council members. They demanded that Mousa appear before the committee so they could ask him about the project.

Mousa told the committee Monday that Mayor Alvin Brown and the current administration wanted him out.

"It was made very clear to me my services were no longer desired," he said.

Council member are also concerned because they say the current administration is making cuts without council approval.

"It's just not the way we should be doing business," councilwoman Denise Lee said. "It's disrespectful. It says we don't matter."

There is concern about rising cost of certain parts of the project, particularly the new state attorney's offices. Right now that portion of the project has been delayed for six months to a year.

"I just became aware of items that have been deleted that are functional to the courthouse. The courthouse can't function without them. No one has contacted me," Duval County Circuit Court Chief Judge Donald Moran told the committee.

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