If you’re going to be in Topeka next month, you might stop in the Kansas Capitol building to get a look at how some of your hard-earned tax dollars were spent by state lawmakers.
The first week in September, construction workers are scheduled to start removing the temporary walls that have closed the rotunda of the Kansas Statehouse off from the public since 2008. State Architect Barry Greis said the crews will start on the fifth floor and work their way down; the last of the temporary walls should be down by Sept. 21.
Work on the rotunda was part of the overall renovation of the Capitol, the total cost of which is expected to reach at least $391 million. For that amount of money, we certainly hope the newly unveiled rotunda will be beautiful sight to behold. Be sure to notice the new chandelier, which reportedly cost $296,000, hanging from the Capitol dome.
The longer this project has gone, the more it has cost state taxpayers.
The best news about the rotunda unveiling is that it indicates the interior renovation of the Capitol is nearing completion. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the roof of the Capitol dome, which is undergoing about $20 million in repairs to its copper shell and underlying wood structure.
Of course, it makes no sense, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the Statehouse renovation, to allow it to be damaged by a leaking roof, but that’s the kind of thinking that has turned what initially was envisioned as a $90 million renovation into one that cost closer to $400 million.
Legislative leaders who have approved the ever-growing list of expenditures even amid tough economic times across Kansas and the nation have continued to insist that state taxpayers will think their money was well-spent once they see the end results. Based on the tremendously successful renovation work done in the Senate and House chambers, there is reason to believe the restoration of the rotunda will be equally stunning.
The Kansas Statehouse is likely to become a popular tourist attraction, receiving national attention for its beauty and historic preservation, along with the excellence of the craftsmen who designed, engineered and completed the renovation — as costly as it was.