Monett Area Workshop funding shift revises planning

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A funding shift for the Monett Area Workshop has prompted a re-examination of the board's finances and how to approach future funding.

Money to cover transportation of handicapped clients to Monett for jobs has historically come from the tax boards for the developmentally disabled. Boards in Barry and Lawrence counties have provided around $150,000 a year, based on the number of clients served.

Earlier this year, George Woodward, the executive director of the Lawrence County tax board, learned that federal funding through Medicaid was being used by some sheltered workshops in the state to cover transportation costs.

Hearing of this, Workshop director Mica Plummer approached the state field representative overseeing workshops. The representative said workshops did not qualify as Medicaid providers. Woodward looked into the matter further and found the OATS bus service, which transports the handicapped employees, does qualify as a Medicaid provider.

In its last meeting, the Lawrence County tax board approved switching all of the transportation costs to Medicaid for 2014. The Barry County board voted to have Medicaid cover costs for the first half of 2014.

The Workshop will continue to bill the tax boards for services rendered, documenting the exact number of riders using the OATS service, through Dec. 31. Medicaid reimbursement would go directly to OATS thereafter, without involving any accounting through the Workshop.

When the Workshop board met on Nov. 19, board members discussed what the funding shift meant in possibly opening up other funds that would be available through the local tax boards.

Earlier this year Plummer purchased two new bailers at a combined cost of $21,000. The action followed a report that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had begun making inspections at workshops. Plummer said the old bailers were not in compliance and the new ones were much safer to use.

With the addition of better bailers, Plummer told the board she would like to purchase a new shredder. The shredder in current use, though working fine, is 10 years old and out of warranty. Recycled paper packs better and brings a higher price if shredded before bundling.

"We just need the community to bring us more paper and cardboard for recycling," Plummer added.

During the Workshop's October board meeting, approval was given to renew health insurance for the nine full-time non-handicapped employees for 2014. The quote from Anthem/Blue Cross, provided by insurance broker Bell and Associates, represented a premium increase of 26.69 percent. Plummer sought bids and found other providers offered similar prices. Board members chose to stay with the same provider.

Plummer quoted prices for new packing jobs with the Luck "E" Strike fishing lure company in Cassville. EFCO, a Pella company, also expressed interest in renting part of the Workshop's building at 204 S. Central for storage again.

The Workshop board schedules meetings on the second Wednesday of each month. Plummer said the next meeting will likely be held in January 2014.
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