Webster Council on Aging (COA) has passed a significant hurdle in the battle to build a new Senior Center on Sheppard Street next door to the Educational Services Center of the Webster Parish School Board.
The new building was in the Capital Outlay bill signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal.
"We were all watching online as they debated the center," COA Executive Director Dathene Brown said. "When they approved the budget we were ecstatic."
The capital outlay budget divides funds for the center into $200,000 as Priority 2 and $1.3 million as Priority 5.
"The way capital outlay works is as a line of credit system," Division of Administration spokesperson Michael DiResto said. "Priority 2 is a cash line of credit. Priority 5 is sometimes referred to as future funding; it's a non-cash line of credit."
Legislative approval of capital outlay projects essentially amounts to them being placed in line to receive funding at some point in time, according to DiResto.
Criteria, which vary for each project, must then be met before funds are made available.
In Webster COA's case, not enough money is allotted as Priority 2, regardless of the Bond Commission approving a cash line of credit.
According to Brown, they will have to wait until all $1.5 million are upgraded to Priority 2 or 1.
"We'll have to re-apply next October," she said. "We can't call out for bids until all the money is available."
"As is often the case with capital outlay projects, before construction can begin it's important to have sufficient funding allocated to the project so that construction can continue without interruption," DiResto said. "We will certainly discuss this project with the area's legislative delegation in consideration of additional capital outlay funds."
Brown said they have lost two of their main proponents to retirement, District 10 Representative Jean Doerge and Jerry Jones. She said she hoped that newly-sworn-in District 10 Rep. Gene Reynolds would take up the banner.
The new center is to replace the current structure, which regularly floods, presenting potential health hazards to its occupants.
In 2009, a capital outlay item of $140,000 was approved for the center's design. In 2010, Jindal line item vetoed a capital outlay for the center, along with every other Webster Parish project.