Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 13th, 2010

Have we become easy street for public assistance?

Sullivan County is being bled by social service programs, and people are angry how easy it has become to receive public assistance, motel housing, and cell phones costing us thousands per month.

Legislator Leni Binder has even coined the term “Welfare Wagon Train.”

People seeking subsidies are moving into Sullivan County from other regions like New York City and applying for public assistance, because we appear to be more user friendly than other counties.

Without a doubt those in need should receive help, but people like Binder rightfully believe the County should institute a 30 day residency waiting period before providing services.

Clearly we should take care of our own hardship cases, but those who move here with the intent of getting on the system is another story.

Sullivan County attorneys claim Binder’s plan would be illegal.

County Attorney Sam Yasgur has said if the County was to establish a residency waiting period, “it would violate state and federal law and would potentially be unconstitutional.

Assistant County Attorney Thomas Cawley researching Binder’s proposed resolution has said it “would be unlawful, unenforceable and not defensible if challenged.”

In reality, at the end of the day our County Attorneys might be right, but approving such a measure would draw the attention we need to get some changes in the way people are approved for social services and it might deter transients from moving here.

New York State mandates place the burden on counties when it comes to Medicaid responsibility. Sullivan County has an approximately $500,000 increase in these costs so far this year.

Food stamp applications have been on a rise, as is every other statistic in the public assistance arena. We are up nearly 15 percent from last year and over 20 percent from two years ago, and there appears to be no end in sight.

Nearly 14,500 people are receiving one form of public assistance, and that does not include those in group homes. Residents in group homes receive assistance directly from state coffers, so we cannot even attempt to blame these worthy special needs deserving people.

Obviously, if New York State took full financial responsibility for social service programs they force counties to provide, we might not be in the devastating shape we are in. But, we also need to enact measures to cut costs.

I constantly hear horror stories about how our County is negligent in the way we handle expenses associated with providing services. For example, Taxi services used for transportation are bleeding our county, but no one wants to open up that Pandora’s Box.

We need a complete investigation and overhaul review of all expenses associated with our social service programs. Case workers are overworked, and are being forced to do as they are mandated.

Binder is correct in her desires to enact a 30 day waiting period, whether counsel agrees or not, and she must be thanked for finally opening up the topic for discussion.

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