MORGANTOWN — Facing north of $100,000 in outstanding debt, local nonprofit In Touch & Concerned (ITAC) ceased operations Aug. 10 and plans to sell its Chaplin Road property in an attempt to clear its books.
ITAC Board President Hans Wikle said the agency’s 11 employees, including Executive Director Lisa Maxey, have been let go.
The nonprofit was founded in 1971 for the purpose of providing telephone support to those in the area confined to their homes. Over time, however, its focus shifted to providing non-emergency medical transportation with financial support from the state.
Wikle said that the agency was providing about 800 round trips monthly at its peak last summer — many of which were for clients restricted to wheelchairs.
“Most of the vehicles we have are wheelchair accessible. We were the only ones who did wheelchairs. Nobody else was doing it,” he said, adding, “There’s no organization in this area that transports people on Medicaid that need wheelchair transportation. Nobody does it. We’re done. We’re gone. That’s it.”
He explained there have been a number of factors that compounded to leave the nonprofit in an untenable financial position — some of which were self-inflicted.
It costs ITAC, on average, $11.40 for each client it picks up, Wikle said. State reimbursement is about $8.90 per rider, meaning additional funding sources are needed.
A missed application deadline for grant funding from the United Way has resulted in the loss of $60,000 from the organization’s annual budget for the last three funding cycles.
The agency’s annual operations budget is typically between $180,000 and $200,000, Wikle said.
“We lost a $60,000 grant from them [United Way] a couple years back, and we’ve never been able to recuperate from that,” he said. “We’ve basically been playing whack-a-mole with the bills ever since, and it’s really caught up with us.”
Further, he explained that an oversight leading to a missed tax filing deadline from the agency went undetected for a year, running up fines from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and digging the financial hole deeper.
“The issue is these things compound. So if you have a need but you have some problems, it’s hard to get funding. Plus, the other thing is, we’re viewed upon by other organizations like we don’t really need the money because we’re reimbursed by the state,” Wikle said. “That’s just not true. It’s not true at all.”
He explained that the agency’s vehicles are owned by the transit authority and will be returned.
Wikle said he’s hopeful the agency can be revived because “There is a huge need in the community for this.”
For the time being, however, the agency’s doors are closed and it will take a significant amount of money to open them back up.
“It’s upwards of $100,000 that we owe when you take into consideration what we owe the state for taxes, what we owe the bureau of risk management, what we owe for worker’s compensation, what we owe the IRS, what we owe on the current mortgage on our property, what we owe on the gas cards,” Wikle said. “As these things accrue, we get further and further behind.”
He went on to say, “Regardless of feelings and regardless of what else is there, if you don’t have the money, you don’t have the money. It takes money to manage an organization, even if it’s a non-profit.”