A plan to redirect Miami-Dade County’s judicial construction budget to repair the downtown civil courthouse advanced Wednesday, with Chief Judge Bertila Soto endorsing the measure.
The proposal by County Commissioner Juan C. Zapata calls for tapping up to $75 million set aside for other courthouse projects and spending as much of it as needed on emergency repairs at the 1928 civil courthouse, which suffers from mold, leaks and other issues.
Zapata’s proposed resolution instructs the administration of county Mayor Carlos Gimenez to inspect the facility for safety factors and “be prepared for the possibility of closing the 1928 Courthouse for emergency repairs.”
Soto was the public face of the failed referendum campaign to raise property taxes to fund a $390 million replacement for the 1928 building, with School Board member Raquel Regalado leading the opposition. Zapata, also an opponent of the tax plan, introduced his ordinance before the Nov. 4 election.
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On Wednesday, Soto told members of the County Commission’s Public Safety Committee that she endorsed the Zapata resolution, which is also backed by Regalado. The committee unanimously sent the Zapata plan to the full commission for a vote.
While she endorsed the plan for emergency repairs and inspections, Soto told commissioners that Miami-Dade needs a larger courthouse than the one built almost 90 years ago.
“Even if this building was pristine,” she said, “we know it would be inadequate.”