LUMBERTON — Robeson County Commissioner Raymond Cummings was elected to another one-year term as chairman of the Department of Socials Services board on Tuesday in spite of his re-appointment to the board being in doubt.
Cummings, whose DSS term expired on June 30, has yet to be reappointed to the board by the county Board of Commissioners, which on two occasions has failed on 4 to 4 votes to either reappoint Cummings or replace him. According to Patrick Pait, the county’s attorney, Cummings will continue to serve on the board until he is reappointed by the commissioners or they name his replacement.
The county board could revisit the matter on July 28, when it holds a meeting postponed from this past Monday.
Cummings was re-elected by the five-member DSS board by a vote of 3 to 2. Voting in favor of Cummings was Cummings, Berlester Campbell, a fellow county commissioner, and Alfred Bryant. Voting against Cummings were Lance Herndon, also a county commissioner, and Derick Coe, who had been nominated to run against Cummings.
Cummings told The Robesonian he has been a member of the DSS board for 18 years and the board’s chairman for 14 years. He said he could not remember if he ever had another DSS board member challenge him for the chairmanship.
“It’s a great honor to serve as chairman of this board,” Cummings said. “Over the years we have made great progress at DSS.”
Herndon was re-elected to another one-year term as the board’s vice chairman by acclamation, meaning no one was nominated to oppose him.
In other business, Faye Lovell, finance director for the Robeson County Department of Social Services, warned board members that the county will have to pick up part of the cost of a state program that provides assistance to eligible adults needing domiciliary care. The money is not included in the DSS budget that became effective July 1 because the state had not informed counties until recently that they would be responsible for half of the $34 extra a month that those eligible for the Special Assistance/In Home program would be receiving.
“We have 525 eligible clients for this program,” Lovell said. “At 525 clients by $17 a month for 12 months a year that means in excess of $107,000 not budgeted.”
Lovell said DSS would attempt to find the money in it existing budget.
The board was told by Denise Leavitt, supervisor overseeing the granting of energy assistance to those needing assistance in paying energy bills, that the county over the past year was able to provide energy assistance to all eligible residents who were applied.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.