Speaker Hickman and Pro Tem Bingman have authored HB3168 this session, which proposes an additional $125 million in bond funding to complete restoration of the Oklahoma State Capitol.  Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the measure:

What is the additional $125 million for?

The initial $120 million authorized in 2014 will make extensive repairs to the damaged exterior, begin to replace and upgrade all mechanical and infrastructure systems (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, fire safety, etc.) and add a secure visitor entry. The additional $125 million would build on that progress as follows:

Exterior

  • Replacement of parapet wall flashing to prevent water infiltration
  • Waterproof east tunnel
  • Replace approximately 40% of the copper roof
  • New coating and drain work in the light wells
  • Replace all exterior doors
  • Refurbish stairs, plazas, railings, and battlements
  • Repair and/or replace damaged sidewalks

Interior

  • Completion of infrastructure work in the tenant areas of the building
  • Upgrade security systems
  • Add a more functional loading dock on the west end of the building
  • Add stairways in the east and west wings for safety and code compliance
  • Repair/replacement of condensate roof drains
  • Upgrade technology cabling
  • Move fresh air intake to the roof
  • Refurbish tenant spaces
  • Refurbish obsolete equipment and furniture

No funds would be spent on parking garages, parks, reflecting pools, or monuments.

Why are more funds needed beyond the initial $120M bond issue? Is the project over budget?

Nothing is over budget. The State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee approved two scopes of work: One for $120 million that is funded and on budget, and another of around $250 million that is partially funded. A budget won’t be set for the larger project unless additional funds are secured.

The $120 million bond issue passed in 2014 was a start, not a finish. It was always anticipated that additional funds would be needed. A larger bond issue was not passed at that time because the only study available to reference then was a dated report based on a visual inspection in 2009. That report did not incorporate the time-consuming and intrusive investigations necessary to gain a full understanding of the Capitol’s problems and the cost to fix them.

Such a report has since been completed. Over the past year, teams have spent thousands of hours analyzing every inch of the building. Engineers, architects, preservationists and construction experts compiled tens of thousands of pages of detailed analysis to formulate cost estimates for repairing the building. The initial $120 million will not cover the scope of work necessary to finish the project properly, hence the request for additional funds.

Why are the funds needed now?

This bill doesn’t issue additional bonds until 2018. Current funding carries the project that far. However, a great deal of money can be saved by securing project funding upfront.

For example, Kansas passed numerous small bond issues to complete its $330 million Capitol repair. The funding uncertainty caused construction to demobilize and remobilize multiple times, which wastes money. Kansas estimates $50 million could have been saved in its project if full funding had been secured upfront. Other states have shared similar stories.

For Oklahoma, securing full funding upfront saves millions of dollars in the long run by making planning and construction more efficient.

What is the timeline for completion if the additional funds are authorized?

The exterior team has established a timeline of 3.5 years, while the interior team has established a timeline of 6 years. The project will be completed by the end of 2022.

Will this impact the current budget or next year’s budget?

No. This has no impact on the state budget for FY 2016 or FY 2017. Debt service on this bond issue would not be required until the FY 2019 budget. This bond would be issued in 2018 because 40 percent of the state’s bond principal rolls off the books that year, which makes it possible to pay debt service on this bond without taking an additional penny out of the General Revenue Fund.

How does the cost compare with similar projects in other states?

It would be on the low end and done faster. Oklahoma’s comprehensive restoration would cost approximately $250 million when completed under the current scope of work. Recent comprehensive Capitol restoration costs in other states include $337 million in Oregon (unfunded), $330 million in Kansas (complete), $308 million in Minnesota (ongoing), and $200 million in Wyoming (ongoing). Oklahoma’s project would be completed faster than any of these states’ projects.

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