A state funding problem is threatening to push construction of a $5.85 million Washington County senior citizen center — already delayed 10 months — into 2012.
For months, the county has awaited $600,000 it expected this year from the Maryland Department of Aging, followed by $200,000 next year.
However, it became apparent this week that the county won't get the $600,000 — at least, right away — because of how it was awarded.
The current plan is to build a 27,000-square-foot senior citizen center on the Hagerstown Community College campus. It will have a gymnasium, kitchen, Internet cafe, multipurpose dining room and a variety of meeting and activity rooms, including a computer lab, game room, art room and professional counseling areas.
A 2,300-square-foot addition would follow later.
Construction was supposed to start in October 2010, but has been held up because of the state funding snag.
Even though only a portion of the total project cost is at stake, the state money appears to be critical before construction can begin.
Joseph Kroboth III, the county director of public works, said the state Department of General Services must approve a project that uses Department of Aging money. But general services can't review plans until funding is approved, leaving the entire project in limbo, Kroboth said.
The county requested $800,000, the maximum the Department of Aging will award, for fiscal year 2012. Because of budget constraints, the department didn't fund any capital requests.
However, when $600,000 from a previous year became available — a Baltimore City project wasn't moving ahead — the department pledged that money to Washington County.
The state Board of Public Works had to give final approval.
However, the item was pulled from the board's June 15 agenda amid concerns that the state's House and Senate budget committees needed to be consulted.
The item never came back to the board.
Del. Norman H. Conway, D-Wicomico/Worcester, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, said Wednesday that the $600,000 pledge to Washington County failed to go through full budget review, so the process will start anew when the 2012 legislative session convenes in January.