The people's house

Published:

Some people are making a to-do over the fact that Gov. and Mrs. Fletcher havent contributed money to the fundraising effort to pay for needed renovations to the Governors Mansion.

There also is another glaring omission from the donor list the taxpayers of Kentucky who happen to be the owners of the building.

So far about $1 million in private contributions has been raised by the Governors Mansion Preservation Foundation. The goal is to raise $5 million.

The Mansion was last renovated 25 years ago during the administration of Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. An estimated 45,000 people tour the Mansion each year, and it is used often for both official and unofficial events throughout the year.

The Fletchers found a lot needs to be done to the residence. Paint is peeling. Mantels are separating from chimneys. The roof leaks and the heating and air conditioning systems dont work very well. The oven in the kitchen actually vents into the living area on the second floor.

How many Kentuckians would put up with that in their own homes? How many members of the General Assembly?

Indeed, if the roof leaked in the Capitol Annex where legislators have their offices and committee meeting rooms, the heating and cooling systems didnt work well and paint peeled from windows and doors, we expect there would be an appropriation in the new budget to make the necessary repairs. And it would be an entirely appropriate appropriation to maintain a building owned by the taxpayers.

The same applies to the Governors Mansion. The taxpayers entrust their public buildings to their elected officials and legislators, and the taxpayers expect those buildings to be maintained in good physical order.

Mrs. Fletcher in particular has worked hard at the Foundation fundraising, and $1 million is nothing to belittle. We note that only one former governor and his wife, Brereton and Libby Jones, have contributed to the renovation project so far.

With that money in hand, work on the heating and air conditioning will begin this spring. In the meantime, surely Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly can agree that it is important to keep the Mansion in at least as good condition as the legislatures own office building and approve the $4 million needed to complete the project now.

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