Topeka The saga continues.
The price tag on the Capitol renovation project has increased to $285.6 million.
That is roughly three times the cost that was recommended when the project was envisioned in 2000.
Even so, legislative leaders didn't blink as they voted to recommend additional funding to keep the project going.
"I think it's a pretty general feeling of the Legislature that we do have a responsibility to the future to try and step up here and make sure things get done," said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, R-Ingalls.
"None of us like increased costs," he said, but added that the changing scope of the project has required more funding.
On Wednesday, the Capitol Restoration Commission, which includes Republican and Democratic legislative leaders, was briefed on the poor condition of the exterior masonry.
"The time has come for a comprehensive restoration project to address these issues," said Vance Kelley, project manager for Treanor Architects, the Lawrence-based firm that leads the project.
Kelley showed video of large pieces of masonry dislodging from soft hammer blows.
The Capitol was built between 1866 and 1903 for $3.2 million, according to historians. Since then, Kelley said, the quality of some previous repair jobs "was pretty questionable."
Renovation officials said that they thought the cost to repair the exterior might approach $70 million but that they were pleased to get a bid for $38.8 million from Chicago-based Mark 1 Restoration Services, which has worked on the Nebraska Statehouse.
In addition, Kansas Statehouse Architect Barry Greis said it would probably cost $4.2 million to repair problems with the building's copper dome.
Greis also unveiled for the first time a price tag for renovation of the north wing and rotunda, which he estimated at $74.2 million.
The Restoration Commission approved spending $211 million and will take up the north wing expenses next year. Later, the Legislative Coordinating Council also approved the increased funding.
The project has been ongoing since 2001 and is expected to be finished by the end of 2011.
According to officials, the escalating price has been caused by a variety of factors. They include add-ons, such as a $15 million parking garage and a new ground floor of office space, which wasn't included in the original restoration plan. Also, inflation has been much higher than was expected in 2000, and workers have found numerous problems that weren't apparent at first.
"It has been quite an adventure to go through this process," said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.