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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Mike Fasano drafts amendment to require review of new state buildings in wake of 'Taj Mahal'

7

February

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, wants Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to review the way the state designs and builds all buildings in light of the way judges from the 1st District Court of Appeal were able to build a lavish new courthouse in the midst of a budget crisis.

Fasano said Monday that he is drafting an amendment that will be offered Tuesday to the Senate Government Oversight Committee. The amendment would require a review and analysis of the way the state contracts for the design, building and maintenance of new buildings to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misused in the future.

Judges at the North Florida Court were able to take control of the planning and building of the courthouse away from the Department of Management Services, the state agency that oversees construction of new buildings. The resulting courthouse, dubbed a “Taj Mahal’’ by critics, will cost taxpayers more than $70 million once bonds to finance its development are repaid.

Atwater’s auditors are already looking at more than a million dollars in bills submitted for artwork, big-screen televisions and other purchases for the new courthouse, which was completed in December.

Lucy Morgan, Times senior correspondent

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[Last modified: Monday, February 7, 2011 3:38pm]

    

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