03/23/04 — Social Services asks for $2 million increase

View Archive

Social Services asks for $2 million increase

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 23, 2004 2:05 PM

Wayne County could spend $2 million more next year to reimburse part of the cost of providing medical services to the poor.

The Social Services Department is estimating that it will need nearly $13 million in county funding in the 2004-05 budget.

This is up from nearly $11 million this year. Nearly all of the increase would be due to increased Medicaid costs.

The county relies on state forecasts, which sometimes prove to be high, Director Judy Pelt told the Board of Social Services on Monday.

Most N.C. counties are not spending as much this year as was projected, Mrs. Pelt added. If the financial forecasts improve this spring, Social Services could lower its budget request.

All county departments are submitting their budget requests this week. County Manager Lee Smith will use those figures to propose a new budget. The county commissioners will vote in June on his recommendation, and the budget would go into effect July 1.

Social Services' preliminary budget request totals more than $162 million, including about $150 million in federal and state money.

The county's share would be $12.9 million, compared to $10.9 million this year.

Of the local funds, $7.4 million would be the county's portion of Medicaid, which is mandated by the state government.

This year's Medicaid payments have been well under the $5.4 million budget.

After February, eight months into the fiscal year, the payments had totaled less than $3.4 million. If the trend continues through the end of the year, the account would end up $400,000 in the black.

However, the Social Services board members felt they needed to go ahead and ask for what the state says they'll need, then lower it later if possible.

The board also agreed to ask for four more social workers for the child protective services and foster care departments. A processing assistant is also requested.

A recent state reclassification will elevate 19 social workers, now classified as level 3, to level 4. Employees may also get an across-the-board 2 percent raise.