State judge says extra courthouse renovation costs must be paid by county

Renovations at the crumbling Westchester County Courthouse have now reached $50 million over budget, and now Westchester has been dealt an ultimatum to put up the money to meet the cost overruns, or the county will face sanctions.State Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman says the extensive renovations have to be finished soon, and the county is responsible for the cost. The current, unfinished state of the courthouse is viewed as a safety problem. If Westchester puts up $42 million to finish the project, Lippman says the courts will chip in $9 million. Lippman has set a November 14 deadline for a decision on the issue.However, Deputy County Executive Larry Schwartz (D) says the renovation is a state project, in which the state made mistakes. He says it would only be fair for the state to provide additional funds to finish the job, and that Westchester taxpayers should not have to pay another nickel.An audit on the courthouse released Tuesday by the state comptroller determined the state is also responsible for the costs, since it oversees the project. However, if Westchester does not pay, it could lose out on millions in state financial aid.

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