Despite the fact that voters had already rejected the idea, Broward County commissioners decided Tuesday to tax property owners – without their approval – to help replace the aging main courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
County commissioners voted 6-3 to spend $328 million to replace a an aging courthouse plagued by rats, mold and flooding. Supporters said it would only cost taxpayers about $8 a year, but dissenters argued it was simply wrong not to take the issue before voters.
The commission faced intense pressure from the legal community to move ahead immediately rather than risk a repeat of 2006 when voters rejected a tax increase to pay for construction. Judges and lawyers complained of dismal and dangerous conditions in a building used by thousands of people a day.
“This has been a long time coming,” Chief Judge Victor Tobin said after the vote. “The county took a bold step. I know these are difficult times, but this is important for this community.”
Mayor Ken Keechl joined commissioners Stacy Ritter, Ilene Lieberman, Kristin Jacobs, Al Jones and Diana Wasserman-Rubin in voting to use the commission’s own authority to levy taxes, while commissioners Lois Wexler, Suzanne Gunzburger and John Rodstrom favored holding a referendum.
That $328 million price tag will skyrocket, nothing is built down here on taxpayers money on time or on budget.