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Free Press Article

A Sheltered Workshop Update

For Warrensburg Free Press February 26, 2004

Also see an analysis of the contracts

The Johnson County Board of Services (JCBS) is charged with operating a sheltered workshop and a group home for the developmentally disabled, along with other related programs. It is funded primarily by a 12 cent property tax levy which brings in slightly under $500,000 a year. Analysis of how the money has been used in the past is very difficult due to the poor financial controls and interlocking contractual arrangements of the entities involved. Financial arrangements now are much more transparent; taxpayers, officeholders and families of the developmentally disabled will have a much better understanding of how effectively their money is used.

The JCBS has been operating the sheltered workshop under its own auspices since Industrial Service Contractors, Inc (ISCi) dissolved itself last September. The 60-plus developmentally disabled clients continue to be served and the new contractor, Lafayette County Enterprises (LCE), is operating the workshop and supplying the required professional staff. Management and administrative functions are performed by the JCBS’ executive director, Terri Marr, and the JCBS has hired its own bus drivers and other non-workshop personnel.

In late December, the JCBS also took over management of the group home and other programs previously administered by Advancement for the Developmentally Disabled (ADD). In addition to directly administering a number of programs, ADD had provided management and accounting services to the JCBS and had furnished the professional staff for ISCi. ISCi had directly employed the developmentally disabled employees and had contracted with outside agencies to provide work performed by these employees. The disabled employees’ pay is based first on a special minimum wage, then by piecework on contracts. Money for their pay comes first from a flat per-person-day amount paid by the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, then from contract receipts, with any shortfall made up by the JCBS.

Previously, the JCBS had no direct employees; relationships were established by a complex set of interlocking contracts among the three boards. Now the JCBS employees its own director and all service providers except for direct management and staff of the workshop run by LCE. The JCBS incurred significant start-up costs when taking over the workshop function because ISCi’s piecework contracts had terminated and files ahd to be recreated as computers were wiped clean. That makes it difficult to directly compare costs under the old and new arrangements.

In 2002, ADD was paid $28,000 for direct management and clerical support, including accounting and budget service. ADD was also paid 15% of two additional contracts (valued at $133,000) for administering other covered programs. ISCi held an additional $142,000 in contracts for various programs; since ISCi leased all its management and staff from ADD, ADD was paid an additional 15% (of an undefined “gross revenue”) by ISCi for management. All told, these amounts could have reached at least $41,000.

ISCi also provided transportation service for the workshop employees using buses owned by JCBS. This was a $69,000 contract in 2002, and included all driver-related costs (wages, training, licensing), supervision and maintenance, plus 15% for management. In addition, the JCBS paid fuel costs directly to MFA oil, since fuel was purchased on credit cards at the MFA self-serve facility; over 20 credit cards were in use. For 2004, the JCBS has budgeted about $68,000 for driver-related costs, fuel and maintenance. The JCBS continues to directly pay vehicle insurance; this cost, budgeted at almost $25,000, had increased considerably because of a series of accidents.

While direct comparisons are not available, the JCBS has budgeted approximately $72,000 for direct management-related expenses previously paid under contract. It has also budgeted $83,000 for direct operation of the workshop, including management, staff and subsiding disabled employees’ wages; other non-transportation costs increase the workshop total by about $100,000.

Some financial issues relating to ADD expenditures on behalf of JCBS programs remain. One relates to contributions to a Medicaid Waiver Matching Fund, another to payment of certain bills incurred on behalf of the group home. The JCBS January 31 balance sheet indicates a balance of about $1.2 million, which would provide all funds needed for 2004 with a one-year reserve. The Free Press will continue to examine records and report the findings.

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