Tracking office renovations at the state Capitol

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JEFFERSON CITY - Office renovations within the Capitol became a hot topic of conversation during the 2016 gubernatorial race. Gov. Eric Greitens criticized his opponent Chris Koster for renovating his staff's office during his time as Missouri's attorney general. Months later, new Lt. Gov. Mike Parson announced plans for some office renovations of his own, totaling $54,000.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Parson's office to talk about this most recent renovation project in the Capitol. A spokesperson for the lieutenant governor told KOMU 8 News Parson had "made all the comments he would like to make on the office renovations" and denied a request for an interview or a statement.

In this Target 8 Investigation, KOMU 8 News reached out to the Office of Administration, the department responsible for overseeing maintenance and renovation projects in the Capitol.

KOMU 8 News learned where the money for these renovations comes from, how projects are requested and how much money was set aside for such renovations in the last five years.

Where does the money come from?

Office of Administration spokesperson Ryan Burns said most, but not all, expenses related to Capitol office renovations are paid for using funds budgeted specifically for building maintenance. State lawmakers in the general assembly decide the amount of money available for such projects.

The Office of Administration keeps a running database of all requested projects, including matters of both routine maintenance and special projects such as office renovations.

Burns said all of these requests are put into a capital improvement bill. From there, state lawmakers must then decide how much money to appropriate for the fiscal year.

Burns said, for office renovations, the majority of that money usually comes from the Facilities Maintenance Reserve Fund. However, state officials are allowed to take additional funding from their own office's budget to pay for decorations and furniture. The specific use of that money is not approved by the general assembly, and it is not budgeted in a capital improvement bill.

Elected officials are given a specific budget to cover "expense and equipment" needs within their office. Money from that fund could be used to purchase the decorations and furniture.

The official budget of each statewide elected official can be viewed on the Office of Administration's website.

How are renovations requested?

Burns said, in most cases, the officeholders themselves are responsible for requesting improvements to their office. Elected officials can reach out to the Office of Administration's commissioner and request the renovations.

Burns said, before construction begins, the request must be reviewed by the Division of Facilities Management, Design and Construction (FMDC), which decides if the project can be completed with available funds.

Burns said filing a request does not guarantee the project will get approved; however, she also said she was unaware of any office renovation requests being denied in the last five years.

How much taxpayer money has been spent?

KOMU 8 News requested the office renovation expenditures for the past 20 years. The Office of Administration responded with expense data from the last five years.

In that time, Missouri lawmakers have approved more than $271,813 to renovate the offices of state-elected officials.

 

According to the Office of Administration, the most recent statewide elected official office renovations have benefited the treasurer ($14,825), the auditor ($8,398), the governor ($199,965) and, most recently, the lieutenant governor ($8,398).

Burns said the Office of Administration only keeps track of the money budgeted by the general assembly. Because politicians are allowed to reach into their own budget to pay for furniture and decorations, the total amount of money spent is greater than reflected in the above graph. Those kind of purchases are left to the discretion of elected officials, and are not funded, nor recorded, by the Office of Administration.

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