Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Commission for Handicapped Asks for Tax Increase

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Commission for Handicapped Asks for Tax Increase

Article excerpt

A tax increase could almost double the number of people that the Jefferson County Commission for the Handicapped can help - if the federal and state governments don't cut back their programs, said Tony Casey, the commission's executive director.

If budget cuts occur, the tax increase would allow the commission to maintain its present services, he said.

The commission is asking voters on Aug. 6 to approve a property tax increase of 5 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation. The tax increase would raise $600,000 a year.

The district's tax rate last year was 10 cents. The owner of a $60,000 house in the county would pay the district $5.70 a year in additional taxes if the proposal passed.

The commission spends about $3.5 million a year. But $2.2 million comes from federal, state and some private sources. The 10-cent tax raises about $1.3 million a year.

The commission estimates that about 1,500 disabled people need its services, but it now serves 400.

About $200,000 generated by the tax increase would be used each year to place more disabled people in residences. Casey said the commission hopes to find in five years a residence for all 65 people now on its waiting list.

The property tax money would help pay for the residence, he said. The commission would get much of that money back through rent and other payments from the residents' Social Security and/or work income, he said.

Money from the tax also would help pay for the expansion of the Pony Bird facility for the disabled in Mapaville so it can house six more people, Casey said. Twenty-nine people now live there.

The commission would spend about $100,000 to help open a sheltered workshop in southern Jefferson County. The commission now helps support a sheltered workshop at 2065 Pomme Road, Arnold. About half of the approximately 70 people employed there live in the southern part of the county and would transfer to the new facility, Casey said.

The additional sheltered workshop would hire about the same number of disabled people as the present one. It would create job opportunities for the disabled in both the northern and southern parts of the county, he said. …

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