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Over budget bids likely to delay senior center

Lowest bid is nearly 20 percent higher than the $5.85 million Washington County previously budgeted for project

April 05, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • This is an artist's rendering of the new senior center to be built on the Hagerstown Community College campus.
Herald-Mail file photo

A new complication — bids that are over budget — is likely to further delay construction of a Washington County senior citizen center.

The project, planned for the Hagerstown Community College campus, is currently about 18 months behind schedule, largely because of funding uncertainties.

The county received six bids, which were opened on March 21, said Joseph Kroboth III, the county’s director of public works.

The lowest bid was about $6.95 million — or nearly 20 percent higher than the $5.85 million the county previously budgeted for the project.

Kroboth said county officials will review the bids for accuracy and consider their options.

Some of those options include rejecting the bids and putting the project out to bid again as is; rejecting the bids and rebidding the project after changing the specifications; and looking for other funding sources.

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County officials will offer recommendations to the Washington County Board of Commissioners, which will decide how to proceed.

The bidding and budget issues alone could delay the project at least another month or two, Kroboth said.

Another question is how the county commissioners will treat the $800,000 almost certain to be in the final version of the fiscal 2013 Maryland capital budget.

The county commissioners agreed last September to supply $800,000 more than their previous commitment after having trouble securing money from the state.

Last year, it looked as if Washington County would get $600,000 that another jurisdiction wasn’t ready to claim.

But the redistribution was halted because the legislature’s budget committees hadn’t vetted the award, causing the county additional months of waiting time.

The $800,000 now appears solid for the coming fiscal year as the legislature is on the verge of approving a final capital budget.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said he originally was going to file a bond bill — a process in which legislators ask for money for capital projects in their districts. The state issues bonds to fund those projects.

At the suggestion of House of Delegates leadership and the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley, Donoghue instead asked for the money to be inserted into the capital budget through a Maryland Department of Aging grant program, he said.

Kroboth said the county commissioners agreed last year to put up $800,000 of the county’s own money to fill the gap. It is unclear if the new state money will be treated as a substitute or a supplement.

The rest of the project funding is projected to come from a variety of sources, including a private foundation, excise-tax revenue, a Community Development Block Grant, the county’s general fund and a tax-supported bond.

The county expects to build a 27,000-square-foot senior citizen center on the HCC campus, with a gymnasium, kitchen, Internet cafe and other amenities. A 2,300-square-foot addition would come later.

Construction originally was expected to start in October 2010, but the question about state funding held up the process for months.

As of January 2012, county officials figured on starting construction around the beginning of this month and finishing in May 2013. But the new bids will now push the process back even further.

 Here are the six approximate base bids and bidders for a Washington County senior citizen center, according to the county’s website:

  •  Roy C. Kline Contractors of Smithsburg, $6.95 million
  •  Warner Construction of Frederick, Md., $7.04 million
  •  Building Systems Inc. of Hagerstown, $7.19 million
  •  Brechbill & Helman of Chambersburg, Pa., $7.29 million
  •  Palmer Construction of McConnellsburg, Pa., $7.48 million
  •  R.A. Hill Inc. of Chambersburg, $8.28 million.
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