SANTA FE (KRQE) — The construction of the First Judicial District's new courthouse in downtown Santa Fe has hit roadblocks before.
In 2009, KRQE News 13 investigative reporter Larry Barker discovered the site of the building was also the site of a major gasoline spill. The cleanup delayed the project two years and put the project millions over budget.
Now there's another problem. The new building could be very empty when it opens next year unless someone pays to furnish it.
The court requested $1.4 million in capital outlay funding to pay for the furniture. Included in that was a request for 20 judge chairs at a cost of $1,000 each and 208 jury chairs at the cost of $600 each.
Court administrator Stephen Pacheco said in a phone interview that those high prices were necessary to buy durable furniture that could last for decades.
Although state lawmakers approved that request, Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed it leaving the court scrambling for funding.
Now the Administrative Office of the Courts is requesting an emergency loan of $1.3 million from the State Board of Finance, which is chaired by the Governor.
Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell says the decision on that request will be made after an April 30 hearing in front of the full board. But, he adds, the governor believes funding needs to come from the AOC or the counties.
"In this case the statute's pretty clear," said Darnell. "The district courthouses are to be put up with county resources."
The statute Darnell is referring to reads: "Each board of county commissioners shall provide adequate quarters for the operation of the district court. ... From the funds of each judicial district, furniture, equipment, books and supplies shall be provided for the operation of each district court within the judicial district."
Although the courthouse will be located in Santa Fe County, the First Judicial District covers Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties as well.
Santa Fe County voters already approved spending money on furniture for the courthouse as part of a $25 million bond they approved to help pay for the new building. Because of delays and cost overruns, that money has already been spent.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.