June 18, 2018
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$1.2 million State House dome rehab project decision delayed

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
The Maine State House in Augusta is reflected in the windows of the Burton Cross building.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — Legislative leaders delayed a decision Thursday on whether to spend an estimated $1.2 million to replace the copper sheathing on the State House dome or seek an alternative remedy that could push the project into the future.

Members of the Legislative Council, which is made up of the House speaker, Senate president and legislative leaders from both parties, opted to send the debate back to a facilities subcommittee before making a final decision.

Sen. Michael Thibodeau, R-Winterport, the Senate minority leader, wanted other more temporary remedies explored before making a final decision.

“Was there any sort of middle ground where we said, ‘OK, we’re going to go in and make a real effort that would have extended the lifespan 10 or 20 years and not have to go to the full replacement?’” asked Thibodeau.

David Boulter, the council’s executive director and the person who oversees maintenance of the Capitol Complex, said roofing experts told him that the more than 100-year-old copper is 30 years past its life expectancy and that patching jobs have been done since at least 2001.

“Not only are there holes in it but the copper itself is thin,” said Boulter. “We’d be putting money into something that is still a patch as well.”

Without a vote, the council opted to send the issue back to its facilities committee.

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