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February 2006

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


No Courthouse Projects for FY 2007 in White House Budget Meanwhile, FY 2006 Courthouse Projects See Costs Rise

When the White House sent its fiscal year 2007 budget plan to Congress this month, it did not ask for funding for any new courthouse construction projects. It did, however, include funding requests by the General Services Administration for repairs and alterations on three Judiciary projects—the Dirksen Courthouse in Chicago, the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in New York, and a federal courthouse in Milwaukee.

For the current fiscal year, FY 2006, the Judiciary asked for and received funding for a courthouse construction project in San Diego, California, and supported the General Services Administration’s request for funding to demolish a building on a future courthouse site in Austin, Texas. This funding was included in P.L. 109-115, the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill of 2006. Funding also was included for projects in Las Cruces, New Mexico; El Paso, Texas; Cape Girardeau and Jefferson City, Missouri; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Jackson, Mississippi; Nashville, Tennessee; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Rockford, Illinois.

But funding doesn’t mean all these FY 2006 projects have the green light. In many cases authorization—the authority to spend the appropriated funds—has been postponed. Only projects in Jackson, Mississippi, Cape Girardau and Jefferson City, Missouri, have received authorization from both the House and Senate to spend their funds.

Over the last year, delays, the increased price of materials such as concrete and steel, and a tight construction market have pushed up the cost of some of the projects. Authorization, in most cases, will wait while a more accurate estimate of costs is completed.

Appropriations of $126 million also will be available in FY 2006 for courthouse repair and alterations projects in the James A. Walsh U.S. Courthouse in Tucson, Arizona; the Emanuel Celler U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York; the James Watson U.S. Court of International Trade in New York, New York; the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building, Post Office and Courthouse in Bangor, Maine; and the San Antonio, Texas Post Office/U.S. Courthouse. Funding has been authorized for all projects except the Emanuel Celler U.S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.