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Supervisor wants more information on courthouse fire (UPDATE)

An alleged lack of transparency about the costs stemming from last year’s fire at the Milwaukee County Courthouse is sparking frustration.

Supervisor Michael Mayo Sr., chairman of the Milwaukee County Board’s Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee, criticized administration officials for a lack of information despite asking for millions, according to a news release. The committee discussed but was not asked to vote on a request from the administration to use $7 million to pay for repair costs related to the fire. The request would have to be submitted for a vote before the money could be spent.

According to a memo written Wednesday about the fund transfer addressed to Mayo and attributed to the administration’s director of operations, the money would be used to pay invoices submitted for work through December and for anticipated costs in 2014. Mayo claimed the administration did not adequately explain why the county’s insurer would not cover those costs, according to the release.

Brendan Conway, spokesman for County Executive Chris Abele, said the insurance company has not said it will not cover those costs. Rather, he said, the insurance company’s approval pace has slowed as individual projects for the restoration have become smaller in scope, and the county does not want to make contractors wait too long for payment.

“We could have fronted all of this,” he said, “and then been in a situation where we’d get a big check at some point.”

The restoration project cost $13.5 million through the end of 2013, Conway said, and insurance has reimbursed $9.5 million so far.

He said the company has not indicated when its investigation into the cause of the fire will be complete, but the county is still on track to bring the courthouse back to full power and reopen the 10th Street entrance by April 1.

About Beth Kevit

Beth Kevit is the Milwaukee city beat reporter and also covers real estate. She can be reached at [email protected] or 414-225-1820.

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