SANTA FE (KRQE) — A new district courthouse being built in downtown Santa Fe has faced long delays and millions in cost overruns.
The project will have cost approximately $63 million when construction wraps up in December.
But even after all of that time and money, the new building will likely be left vacant for months while court administration tries to find a way to pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars of furniture and other equipment.
The First Judicial Court, which serves Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties, had asked the state for $1.4 million in capital outlay funds for furniture and other equipment for the new building. The legislature approved that money but Governor Susana Martinez vetoed it.
Her office and court administrators have been arguing over whether the county or the state is required to foot the bill. Wednesday, Attorney General Gary King offered a non-binding opinion saying that state law requires the state to pay for the furniture
In desperation, the District's Chief Judge, Barbara Vigil, asked the state Board of Finance for an emergency loan of $826,788 for the bare essentials needed to move into the new building in January.
The Board, which is chaired by the Governor, approved an $87,000 loan for security equipment but not for the approximately $740,000 left over. There is still close to $700,000 in emergency funding available to loan out before the end of the month and board members could approve the rest of the loan at a meeting tentatively set for next week, but several board members said those funds would be needed to help municipalities and state agencies dealing with a string of costly wildfires.
A fresh $1.75 million dollars will be available starting July 1, but $458,333 of that was spent elsewhere Thursday and finance secretary Tom Clifford told News 13 he's not sure he's comfortable spending a large portion of that money so early in the year.
Thursday's decision means the earliest the court could get additional state funding is during January's legislative session. Vigil says that means the court likely won't be able to move into its new courthouse for at least another four to six months after the scheduled opening in January.
Numbers on how much Santa Fe County will have to pay to maintain the empty building were not immediately available Tuesday night.
Vigil says some furniture from the old courthouse will be taken to the new building, but that most of the current equipment used in the old building is in a state of disrepair and not worth moving.
Copyright 2013 KRQE TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Did you like this article? Vote it up or down! And don't forget to add your comments below!
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.