Staff at Warren County Handicapped Services are elated at the improved capabilities offered by their new, custom-built facility in Warrenton. But they’re also anxious because of an unexpected …
Staff at Warren County Handicapped Services are elated at the improved capabilities offered by their new, custom-built facility in Warrenton. But they’re also anxious because of an unexpected financial strain looming over the property.
The 4,900-square-foot facility at the corner of Highway 47 and Dry Fork Road was designed specifically to serve the developmentally disabled clients who come to Handicapped Services for educational and recreational programs, said Executive Director Kelli Clodfelter. The entire building is ADA compliant (a big step up from the converted house they used to occupy), and has room for at least double the number of daily program clients.
Visitors to the spacious program area can see clients seated around half-a-dozen U-shaped tables, working with staff on enrichment or educational activities, while other clients learn self-sufficiency skills in a full-size kitchen area. In the other half of the building, staff members finally have sufficient office space to properly manage the services they provide, Clodfelter said.
“Anything you would possibly need to run a facility that does what we do, we now have, and we did not before,” Clodfelter said. “I can’t think of one disability that we couldn’t serve at this facility now.”
She added that clients with mobility trouble are now able to be more self-sufficient because of all the disability accommodations in the new facility. Other new amenities include an enclosed recreational yard with a patio for outdoor activities, as well as adequate parking for staff, visitors and even a bus.
Clodfelter said getting to introduce clients to the new facility was worth significant stress that has come with the project.
“The best day I’ve had in a very long time was the Friday that they walked into this facility. Their eyes, their expressions ... that exact moment was when it was all worth it,” Clodfelter said. “People with developmental disabilities and their families, they deserve more. I feel so blessed that we get to be a tiny part of making that happen.”
Although the new building is wonderful, it came at the cost of more than $1 million, with some extra expenses due to unexpected state regulations along the way, Clodfelter said. Plans for funding the facility were wrecked by the onset of the COVID pandemic and economic slowdown that followed.
The new facility was meant to be funded by a combination of a $500,000 state grant, over $460,000 in tax credits that the organization can sell to businesses, and a bank loan to cover the remaining gap. But the economic impact of COVID drove businesses away from spending on tax credits, and Handicapped Services was left with a deep hole that needed to be filled.
“Instead of having a $200,000 loan right now for our facility, we have closer to a $650,000 loan, and that’s scary. I’ve been stressed for years trying to get this building, and I’m more stressed now that we’re in the building,” Clodfelter said.
Jessica Davis, director of development for Handicapped Services, said purchasing a tax credit isn’t just charitable; it can make financial sense for a business owner. Purchasing a tax credit can reduce your taxes in two different ways, Davis said.
Firstly, purchasing these tax credits counts as a tax-deductible donation, lowering taxable income, Davis explained. Secondly, for every dollar paid by a business, the business will receive a 70-cent credit that can be used to pay their tax bills for up to five years.
Davis said Handicapped Services has just under $400,000 in tax credits to sell to business owners that step up to give their support.
“COVID continues to be an issue. It’s difficult to reach people, because people are afraid to give. They want to hold onto their money, and we understand that. But we still want to give the option,” Davis said.