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Mayor cuts $1M in courthouse furnishings

Overdue, over-budget facility set to open next month

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Alvin Brown will eliminate about $1 million in furnishings for the overdue and over-budget new Duval County courthouse.

Brown met with court officials late Friday afternoon to discuss the cuts.

Brown's chief financial officer, Ronnie Belton, said the furnishings that will be cut will be on the seventh floor of the courthouse in the judge's hearing chambers.

"We feel comfortable that we've got adequate amount of furniture to take care of the seventh floor with furniture that we already have, so we're not going to buy any additional furniture at this point," Belton said.

Judges have said the money has been budgeted for the new furniture, and they're not sure if the furniture from the old courthouse will fit. They said some of the furniture in the old courthouse is unusable and would make the new courthouse non-functional.

Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran said the seventh-floor hearing rooms are the most important rooms in the courthouse and are for family court and mediation. He said he's disappointed in the decision and he said Brown's staff is somewhat dysfunctional, as far as the courthouse goes.

The mayor's office said the money that will be saved can be put to use in other places.

"We are saving money. We are being good stewards of the taxpayers' money," Belton said. "And if we got enough furniture there for what needs to be done, then why spend the money?"

The courthouse oversight committee will meet Monday to discuss further issues.

The courthouse is set to open May 29.