By Kelly Young

The city is working to take a bite out of the cost of Jacksonville’s new city hall building by looking for funding from every available source. Although the exact figures have yet to be determined, city officials plan to use as much money as possible from the municipal court’s security and technology funds to pay for portions of the new structure.

City Judge Pete Menefee said the two accounts, earmarked for security and technological uses throughout the city, were created by action of the state legislature several years ago.

“The money for these two funds comes from traffic tickets. Every time you pay your ticket, three dollars of it goes into one of these funds, and four dollars goes into the other one,” Menefee said. “In the past we have used the security fund to install a camera system here in the city court and the technology fund has been used by the city to pay for new computers.”

According to the most recent figures, as of Sept. 30, there is $108,252.06 available in the security fund and $86,510.11 in the technology fund.

“We are hoping to use as much of this money as we can to build the new city hall. It will be used on the video and sound equipment in the main room, which is going to function as the municipal courtroom and as the council chambers, and for any other security measures and tech uses we can find,” the judge said. “We have known for a number of years now that a new city hall was a strong possibility, so we have been trying to save this money up for a while, and I think using this money in the new building is certainly a good use for it.”

City Manager Mo Raissi said he recently spoke with Randall Scott Architects, the firm chosen by the city to design and construct the new municipal building, and final design documents in the project are expected to be completed in the next few days.

According to Raissi, after reviewing RSA’s budget for city hall, the city decided there were several areas where money could be saved if they bid-out certain portions of the project themselves.

“They were budgeting like $100,000 to do the building’s audio-visual, and in talking to other cities that have built city halls recently, we found that we can do that in-house for about one fourth of what he was charging,” Raissi said. “In addition to the AV, we have also been meeting with people locally who could do the building’s phone and security alarm systems.”

Randall Scott has said he wants to meet with the contractors the city hires to do this work at some point early in the new year. He will have the final construction documents prepared by that meeting, Raissi said.

“The final documents will need to be approved by the City Council before the bidding process can begin. I doubt it will be ready to be an action item in January, but I think by February it will be ready,” he said.

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