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story.lead_photo.caption Julie Smith/News Tribune MoDOT Headquarters, seen at left, and the Capitol could benefit from a fund started under Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s SB 36 which establishes the Capitol Complex tax credit. The bill allows for a state income tax credit of 50 percent of the monetary donation a Missouri taxpayer contributes to the Capitol Complex Fund. The tax credit is capped at $10 million and can be used against taxes for financial institutions as well.

More interior renovation and maintenance projects for Jefferson City's Capitol Complex could soon come to fruition with help from donors.

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter's SB 36 establishes the Capitol Complex tax credit, which provides a state income tax credit of 50 percent of the monetary donation a Missouri taxpayer contributes to the Capitol Complex Fund. The tax credit is capped at $10 million and can be used against taxes for financial institutions as well.

The bill establishes a rehabilitation and renovation account and a maintenance account. The rehabilitation and renovation account will receive 90 percent of the revenues deposited into the fund, 7.5 percent will go to the maintenance account, and 2.5 percent will be set aside for fundraising, advertising and administrative costs.

The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly and is awaiting Gov. Mike Parson's signature to go into effect.

"The Capitol is in my district, and I see the need for the constant maintenance and updating and improvements on all those buildings," Bernskoetter said. "I think it's a win for the Capitol and the Capitol Complex but it's also a win for the people of the state."

The Capitol Complex Fund can be used for the renovation and maintenance of five historic Jefferson City buildings.

"There's nothing specific, I guess," Bernskoetter said. "All these buildings are older buildings — the Capitol, the old Supreme Court building, the old federal courthouse, the highway building, the Governor's Mansion — they're all old, so they constantly need updating and maintenance."

Commissioner of Administration Sarah Steelman will be responsible for choosing projects and determining how the funding will be used, according to the legislation.

Sherry Kempf, design development survey manager at the Office of Administration, said a benefit of the Capitol Complex Fund is that the funds are specifically earmarked to benefit those five historic locations in Jefferson City, meaning they can't be used elsewhere and could fund smaller projects that are not a high priority.

Bernskoetter said there weren't specific improvement projects in mind when he created the bill, but the idea has been around in the Senate for many years.

He mentioned paint peeling off walls and a moisture issue near his office space on the fourth floor of the Capitol as indicators of the building's age. On the day Bernskoetter was presenting the bill, water was leaking into the Senate chambers.

Bernskoetter said legislators have talked about improving office space within the Capitol, whether it be to spread out or make offices more accessible to visitors, for years. Following the exterior renovation of the Capitol from 2018-20, Bernskoetter said some interior renovations would be the goal for the next few years.

"One of the options is to make the basement larger — the Capitol basement larger — and push it out underneath the front lawn and make hearing rooms there in those areas," Bernskoetter said. "Another option is to — it's been discussed taking over the old MoDOT building to use some of those rooms for legislators or staff, or that type of thing. There are different options out there, we just have to figure out which one is the best one and move in that direction eventually."

Mark Hill, director of the Division of Facilities Management, Design and Construction within the Office of Administration, said House Bills 18 and 19, which have been sent to the governor and are awaiting his signature, have funding appropriated for a group of improvement projects already planned for fiscal year 2022.

The Capitol projects include bathroom and plumbing renovations, first-floor joint committee room renovations, bronze doors and south lawn fountain restoration, and some plaster and paint maintenance for the House and Senate chambers, among other projects. Funding for those projects comes from the Facility Maintenance Reserve Fund and federal funding.

The Capitol's heating and cooling system is also being updated this summer as the focus on interior improvements becomes a higher priority.

Hill said renovations to state government buildings are a continual process with priority projects at the top of the Capital Improvements Budget Request system maintained by the Office of Administration. The system provides a six-year plan for improvement projects, Hill said.

HB 18, which is awaiting Parson's approval, sets the Facility Maintenance Reserve Fund for fiscal year 2022 at $100 million. With the list of projects currently being prioritized, the cost of project needs is undetermined. However, Hill said, funding for the Facility Maintenance Reserve Fund is lagging behind the long-term needs of improvement projects.

"What something like the Capitol Complex Fund will do is help us get caught up," Hill said. "But in reality, I'd imagine the Capitol Complex Fund only being a very, very small fraction of the $97 million that's contained in House Bill 18, which is a (general revenue) transfer to FMRF."

Hill said he is not adjusting any long-term improvement plans under the assumption more funding will be available through the Capitol Complex Fund.

"We know that that's subject to somebody making a donation, but we're not even sure that there ever will be any money in the Capitol Complex Fund," Hill said. "Nobody really knows for sure what donations may come."

Bernskoetter said the bill didn't face much opposition this session and would have likely passed sooner, but renovations haven't been seen as a pressing need for years.

"There really hasn't been a whole lot of opposition to it, it's just one of those things that never was real urgent. But luckily we got it across the finish line this year," Bernskoetter said. "Once people understood it, they saw it benefits the state instead of taking money out of the state coffers."

Kempf said a number of local nonprofits, such as the Friends of the Governor's Mansion, have been advocating for a tax credit bill for years.

The number of donations to the Capitol Complex Fund, Kempf said, could be dependent upon the marketing and promotion from nonprofits that have special interests in the buildings.

Rebecca Gordon, executive director of Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion, said the Capitol Complex Tax Credit Act is a way to partner public and private organizations to maintain some of Jefferson City's historic buildings.

"These buildings within the Capitol Complex are seen by thousands of people every year," Gordon said. "They're not just buildings in Jefferson City, they're our history and not only that but our future. And so something like this allows us to maintain these buildings so that people from all over — not only Missouri, but all over the world — can view and enjoy and learn about."

Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Governor's Mansion and its history.

Gordon said the tax credit could be a tool for advancing the Friends of the Governor's Mansion's mission of preservation. The organization is entirely supported by donations. Gordon said Friends of the Missouri Governor's Mansion receives hundreds of donations each year, creating a budget just under a half-million dollars.

That funding primarily goes to maintenance and investments in the mansion, such as purchasing artwork commemorating the building's 150th anniversary or replacing carpeting.

Gordon said more guidance is needed from the state to determine how money from the Capitol Complex Fund could be spent for the Governor's Mansion, which can be expected if the legislation is signed by Parson.

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