JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In the 11th hour, local workers are fighting for a job they say may be one of their last for a while. There are just days left to bid on the job of renovating the old federal courthouse downtown. It's the final phase of the $350 million Duval County Courthouse project.
Some fear the work may be headed out of town.
It's a decision that could come down to hiring local workers for a little more, or sending the work out of town to save taxpayers from footing the bill.
"This is a job that local people need very badly," said John Parker, President of the North Florida Building and Construction Trades Council.
Times are tough for construction workers across the country. Here in Jacksonville -- a glimmer of hope. The final phase of the Duval County Courthouse project entails renovating the old federal courthouse. It's where the State Attorney's Office will move. But Parker worries his guys won't get to touch it.
"There's about $26 million left to get the job done and there's going to be no consideration for whether or not the contractors or the workers are local. It will be strictly low dollar. Period," he said.
Four contractors are expected to bid on the project. One is local, two have offices here, the fourth is from out of town. It's déjà vu for Parker who says two-thirds of those involved in the courthouse construction weren't local. He calls it a slap in the face to Duval County taxpayers.
"This is basically a stimulus package for construction workers that pay taxes here and live here. They should be doing the work."
City Council President Bill Bishop says that is obviously the best-case scenario.
"It would be absolutely fantastic if it stays local," he said. "Quite frankly I don't understand how someone out of town can do it less expensive than somebody local."
But Bishop's biggest concern is if enough funds have been saved to be able to get the job done at all.
"Is there enough money in the project left to get it done? We certainly hope so but we're at the end of the line on this thing and when the money runs out the money runs out."
So what are the options at that point? Bishop says if the bids come in higher than the more than $26 million allotted, something will have to be cut out. Or, the administration will have to go back to city council and ask for more money.
He says that funding source would be taxpayer dollars. The deadline to submit bids is Wednesday at 2 p.m.