Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has ordered a comprehensive audit of funds spent by the state to build a new $40 million courthouse for the First District Court of Appeals.
The audit will include all sources and uses of project funding, including bond proceeds, to determine if the project is in compliance with Florida statutes, Sink said in a letter to the Department of Management Services.
The management agency is overseeing construction of the project in Tallahassee.
Sink said she decided to do the audit after a preliminary review was prompted by a St. Petersburg Times article calling the new building a “Taj Mahal” with plans to purchase 60-inch LCD televisions — one each for the 15 judges and five for other offices.
“If the Legislature approved the spending of scarce state funds on palatial accommodations at a single courthouse, the people of Florida have a right to know how this situation came about and just how much it’s costing them,” the CFO said in a press release announcing the audit.
In a letter to Linda South, secretary of the Department of Management Services, Sink said her office reviewed invoices and other documents that raise questions regarding the courthouse project.
Some $33.5 million of bonds were sold to help finance the project. The bonds were authorized by the Legislature in a 2007 transportation bill, according to the newspaper.
The auditing bureau in the CFO’s Division of Financial Services plans to examine all documents and financial records associated with the project, including those relating to the sale of the bonds, appropriations records, procurement documents, contracts, change orders, project management reports, and invoices that support payments associated with construction of the project.
Sink did not give a timeline for the audit to be done.