DALLAS — The Kansas State Finance Council approved a $17.4 million plan Tuesday to complete renovations at the State Capitol in Topeka that includes $5.4 million of state revenue bonds.
Gov. Sam Brownback, who chairs the council, said it was time to complete the lengthy project.
“This is a mixture of funding to finish the thing up,” he said. “It’s time to get it done. I haven’t been the biggest fan of this project. But it’s just time to wrap it up.”
The financial package also includes $7 million from Kansas Department of Transportation for streets and restoration work on the grounds, and $5 million of cost savings realized over the project’s 12-year tenure. The renovation project was approved by the Legislature in 2000. Work began in 2001.
The Capitol, also known as the Kansas Statehouse, was completed in 1903 after 37 years of construction. The restoration project was originally expected to cost $90 million to $120 million, but lawmakers added an underground parking garage and expanded the basement to accommodate legislative officers. Unexpected expenses included replacing the Capitol’s copper dome and some exterior stonework.
The project is now expected to cost $320 million when completed in early 2014. The bonding authority for the project was capped at $285 million by the Legislature.
The Kansas Development Finance Authority has issued 11 tranches for the Capitol project, including $39.7 million of Build America Bonds in 2010. The KDFA bonds are rated AA by Standard & Poor’s and Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service.
The bond proceeds are allocated to the final construction phase of a visitor center in the Capitol’s basement.
Budget director Steve Anderson said the $7 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation will restore the grounds torn up by construction equipment and replace streets and sidewalks around the Capitol.
House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said he was surprised the bond proceeds would be needed to complete the visitor center. He said lawmakers had been assured that the facility would be privately funded. “It was my understanding that we were done with the bonding that was necessary to get us access and functionality at the Capitol,” he said.
Anderson said additional bonding capacity was available because of a July refunding of $9.9 million of debt issued for the parking garage that were to mature in October 2012.
Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, cast the lone dissenting vote against the proposal. McGinn, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said she was opposed to the use of transportation funds for the project.
“It seems like we’re continuing to use this as a slush fund,” she said.
If more bonds are needed for the project, she said, the decision should be made by the Legislature rather the Council.
Brownback’s budget proposal for fiscal 2013 included $10 million of bonds for the Capitol project, supported by revenues from two new casinos in the state. The plan was not approved by lawmakers.