JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It has been three months since the new Duval County Courthouse opened its doors, but the old courthouse is still costing taxpayers.
The new building opened for business on June 18, 2012, but between June 25 and July 25, JEA charged the city $39,351.53 in electric charges for the old facility. That was more than half what it cost when the building was fully occupied during the same period of time in 2011 when the electric bill was $73,494.93.
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"The building wasn't 100 percent vacated on the day the new courthouse opened," explained Marcy Cook with Jacksonville's Department of Public Works. "There was a period of transition where there were still people working in the building. There were still items in the building."
During that transition, the city was still cooling the courthouse for the comfort of those in and out of the building, said Cook.
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According to Debbie Delgado, Public Communications Officer with the City of Jacksonville, the HVAC system was shut off on September 6, 2012-two days after First Coast News requested information about the ongoing electric costs for the building.
JEA has not yet charged the city for utilities used during the August billing period. Delgado said that should be the last significant bill because the city expects to save 80 percent on electricity now that the "transition" period has ended. The city did not have an exact estimate of how much that would be, however, based on the July bill, even with an 80 percent reduction, the city would be paying around $8,000 per month to keep emergency lights on inside the courthouse.
PHOTO GALLERY: Inside the new Duval County Courthouse
At this point, the city does not have any plans for what to do with the old courthouse facility. According to a statement from the Office of Economic Development, they are waiting for the newly-formed Downtown Investment Authority to weigh in:
"In light of Mayor Brown's and the City Council's recent appointments to the new Downtown Investment Authority Board, we would like to get their input on the matter in a public forum, once they are confirmed. When the new board has had a chance to receive more information and discuss, we will have a better sense of their feedback on this issue."
First Coast News