Nassau social services chief questioned about delays
A public hearing on next year's proposed Nassau County budget for its Department of Social Services grew contentious this week after lawmakers clashed with social service officials over delays in processing requests for public assistance.
The issue came up Wednesday during a hearing into Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano's proposed $2.79 billion budget for 2014.
A special master appointed by a federal court is examining Nassau's food stamp, Medicaid and other public assistance programs after complaints from social service advocates that Nassau repeatedly violated state and federal deadlines for processing aid requests.
County Legis. Robert Troiano (D-Westbury) criticized social services Commissioner John Imhoff for failing in his testimony to mention the scrutiny by the special master.
"You only presented the good stuff," Troiano told Imhoff. "I am raising this issue because individuals and families that are truly in need of medical services, food and other basics are suffering additional hardship because the county can't process applications quickly enough."
Imhoff said he would get Troiano detailed information on the special master, but that data are available in a recent report by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Budget Review.
Troiano responded: "It should have been in your presentation to the legislature."
The case started in 2010, although Imhoff noted that he was notified of the impending lawsuit in late 2009 when Democrat Thomas Suozzi was county executive.
Imhoff said in his presentation that the social services department has kept up with the steadily increasing demand for its services while reducing the size of department's workforce.
The 2014 proposed budget for DSS is $507.4 million, with federal and state grants accounting for about 65 percent.
The full county budget will have a final hearing on Oct. 28, when the full legislature is expected to vote on the spending plan.Also Wednesday, Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, (D-Glen Cove) questioned Human Services Commissioner Lisa Murphy about funding for the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Long Beach, which hosts youth programs and a city-run day care program. Murphy responded that $150,000 in funding for the center is in the 2014 budget.
The human services budget is $35,383,023.