Cost overrun delays State Street project
CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners are mulling options on how to fund a budget shortfall in the construction of a four-bedroom home to be operated by Chesterwye Center Inc.
During the May 9 commission meeting, Department of Housing and Community Services Director Mike Clark briefed the commissioners on how the shortfall occurred and potential options to keep the single-story home’s construction moving forward.
The question currently is what mechanisms can be used to fund the $100,000 shortfall. The property, which in the past few years has been a topic of hot debate throughout the county due to its usage, is located at 325 State Street in Stevensville.
Prior to Chesterwye Center receiving the location, Haven Ministries Inc. operated the facility for a transitional shelter. Community members spoke out against Haven Ministries’ operation after the house had been temporarily closed for expansion for use as an emergency shelter, funded through two Community Development Block Grant through the Maryland Department of Housing and Urban Development..
Though part of the grant had been used for architectural and design work, which the state forced the county to pay back after the facility’s use changed and grant stipulations were not met, about $670,000 remained and was eventually earmarked for demolition of the existing home and the construction of a group home for individuals with disabilites.
Chesterwye is a nonprofit organization located in Queen Anne’s County that serves individuals with developmental disabilities. The main headquarters is located at 110 Chesterwye Lane in Grasonville. The organization operates nine homes for the individuals it ser ves.
David Woodward, principal architect at Manns Woodward Studios Inc., the company hired to design the home, walked the commissioners through the project scope and what had been going on since the commissioners approved the resolution signing over the home in April 2016.
Woodward said construction bids went out in early November and responses were received in December, but at “that time the project was over budget, the bids came in quite high.” Having reworked some of the features in the design, Woodward said a second bid was put out with responses received in March, though the outcome was the same: the project was over budget. With approval from the state, Chesterwye spoke with the original bidders to have them send in value engineering bids to get the project cost lower. Though not all the ideas were plausible, the project was still overrun, he said.
Clark said the county could fund the $100,000 in a number of ways. The first option the state suggested was to apply for a Maryland Agricultural Education Rural Development Assistance Fund Grant through the Rural Maryland Council in the maximum amount of $30,000. Clark warned, though, the grant would not be awarded until at least August.
Clark cautioned the longer the project takes, the more expensive construction costs will become. Clark’s department is still filing paperwork to apply for the grant, he said.
The second option the state suggested was taking $100,000 from the county’s Critical Workforce Revolving Loan program, which grants funds to residents in fields such as teaching, firefighter, police officer and emergency services. The program provides no interest, no pay loans to individuals until the property is sold and the money is then paid back to the county.
Though a viable option, Clark said two of the loans scheduled for Fiscal Year 2018 would then not be available.
The third option, Clark said, was to use county special loans intended for individuals with low income, who are elderly or have disabilities that is in the Department of Housing and Community Service’s current fiscal budget. Clark said the $100,000 had not been used as federal grants and state funds were found throughout the year for individuals.
The loans are used for home repairs, Clark said.
“It’s meant for folks that are low income, which represents Chesterwye and it also is meant for folks who ... have disabilities can fall into that category,” he said. “So, for me that’s a perfect fit and it’s right there to be used, and luckily we haven’t used it.”
Commissioner Mark Anderson said he agreed with Clark’s funding source recommendation. “I want to get this done and I want to get it done soon,” he said.
Commissioner Jim Moran, who questioned why Chesterwye couldn’t fund the $100,000 as it received more than $500,000 for free for the facility, put another funding option on the table.
“If we want to go this route and want to use $100,000 out of another account, I think that that money should be replenished,” Moran said.
He said rather than providing Chesterwye annual funds, the commissioners could fund the $100,000 request but withhold the annual amounts for a set period of time.
Since the discussion, Chesterwye Foundation has pledged to fund $50,000, Clark and Moran said on Monday.
“I think this is good for Chesterwye and it’s good for the county, but I have a problem with spending even more money for something that was never intended for this,” Moran said. “And I mean that respectfully, but I mean that’s an option I want to put out on the table.”
The commissioners tabled the item as Commissioner Robert Buckey was not at the meeting and the vote would have yielded a tie. The item could be voted on during the commission’s next meeting on Tuesday, May 23, in the Liberty Building in Centreville beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.