- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Contractors awarded a $120 million deal to refurbish the Oklahoma Capitol said Thursday they need more than twice that amount to meet the specifications of the project - money that will be hard to come by in a tight budget year.

Officials with Manhattan Construction and JE Dunn Construction, the two contractors selected for the project, presented $187 million in new spending to members of a legislative panel overseeing the project. The new spending includes $122 million in construction costs to complete the project goals and another $65 million for exterior upgrades like a parking garage and giant stone arch that one member referred to as “fluff.”

The State Capitol Repair Expenditure Oversight Committee, which includes members of the House and Senate, is expected to take a formal vote in February on whether to present the additional funding request to the Legislature.

With the Legislature expected to face a hole in next year’s budget that could be as deep as $1 billion, House Appropriations Chairman Rep. Earl Sears, a member of the committee, acknowledged the additional spending will be a tough sell.

“I personally will vote for it and support it,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville. “But there’s no question, if you think this is a slam-dunk vote from the other members, that’s just not the case.”

The $120 million already approved in a bond issue passed by the Legislature in 2014 includes $25 million for repairs to the building’s exterior and $85 million for interior renovations. The additional $10 million is for contingency planning, administrative costs and fees for professional and consulting services.

That funding is enough to excavate the ground floor and create a new basement-level public entrance, replace the electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems in the basement and the building’s core, install new elevators, repair the building’s crumbling facade and clean the building’s exterior.

But Manhattan project manager Kyle Nelson said an additional $95 million is needed to extend new plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems into the wings of the building, expand a loading dock, add stairwells to dead-end corridors, restore tenant space and make other repairs to the building’s interior. Another $27.5 million is needed for exterior work: repairing windows and doors, fixing the roof, and wall flashing to prevent water intrusion and to repair the east tunnel.

“Over the years, the Capitol has seen a number of poor repairs,” said JE Dunn project manager Bobby Snyder. “A total restoration is a pretty costly endeavor.”

Nelson also presented the panel with a long-range vision that includes $65 million for a parking garage, a Capitol park with a reflecting pool and a giant stone arch. Sears, the budget chairman, called those items “fluff.”

Rep. David Brumbaugh, the chairman of the House Republican caucus, said getting the increasingly conservative House members to approve another bond issue for Capitol repairs will be a challenge.

“I don’t think it will sell,” said Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow. “It’s like being a parent. Sometimes you have to tell your kids: ‘No, we just can’t afford it.’”

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Oklahoma Capitol Interior Plans: http://bit.ly/1TobNSs

Oklahoma Capitol Exterior Plans: http://bit.ly/21zDLkk

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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