Travis County, TX Pursuing PPP for New Courthouse

The American-Statesman reports that last week the county commissioners in Travis County, Texas voted to issue a request for information (RFI) for a public-private partnership (PPP) to construct a new civil courthouse. According to the American-Statesman, the new courthouse would be built on a $21.75 million lot in downtown Austin, purchased by the county late last year. In a separate vote the commissioners approved a panel of officials from county departments to oversee the RFI process and evaluate responses due June 30.

The move received support from civil state district judge John Dietz, who told commissioners, â??(He believes) that (the county doesn’t really) have a choice but to go (with a) public-private partnership.â?

Votes opposing the measure were based on procedural grounds. Commissioner Huber explains, she â??Canâ??t support this motion because (she doesnâ??t) believe (the commissioners) should be putting the RFI out before (they) have a team togetherâ?¦ [Her preferred direction] is that (the commissioners) get their financial and legal expertise on board first, and put it together with an internal team, then (they can) move forward.â?

Transcript and video of the two hearings related to the courthouse PPP are available online here and here. The first hearingâ??on Item 20â??contains deliberation over how to most effectively issue the RFI, and whether or not to issue a request for service (RFS) to solicit services from financial and legal advisors prior to issuing the RFI. The second hearingâ??on Item 26â??consists of analysis of PPP courthouses in Charlotte, North Carolina and Brooklyn, New York, including consideration for amenities, transportation accessibility, financing mechanisms and more. Discussion mostly excludes a similar PPP civil courthouse project in Long Beach, CA, because the $490 million facility is still under construction.

For more on the Long Beach courthouse, see Reason Foundationâ??s Annual Privatization Report 2010: State Government Privatization, Part 8.