LUMBERTON — The financial officer for the Robeson County Department of Social Services told DSS board of directors on Tuesday that the DSS budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year will exceed $440 million.
In a brief report, Faye Lovell said the budget, to become effective July 1, includes $441 million in expenditures, with $37 million of that total actually passing directly through the hands of the local DSS for payment. The county’s portion of the budget, approved earlier this month, is $13 million, Lovell said.
According to Lovell, the budget includes almost $62 million for food stamp benefits and $336 million for Medicaid.
Lovell said that the amount of money county commissioners allocated to the upcoming budget is the same as it provided for the current budget. Originally DSS had wanted to hire two new employees, but Lovell said the request was dropped to keep the budget in line with the amount of funding being provided by the county.
“This is a good budget. It’s workable,” she said after the meeting.
County Commissioner Raymond Cummings, who chairs the DSS board, was not present Tuesday but attended the meeting by conference call.
“I’m fine with it,” he said after hearing Lovell’s comments.
The DSS board did not have to take official action on the budget Tuesday because it had already approved it in March. Lovell said she brought the issue before the board Tuesday to let the directors know what action the county commissioners had taken in regards to her agency’s budget request for the new fiscal year.
Lovell also told the board that DSS employees will begin to use Day Sheets, an Internet-based program, to keep records of programs they work on and the amount of time put into each program. The new system of keeping records replaces the current “green sheet system” where all entries must be recorded by hand.
‘This system should be more efficient and provide a better chance of catching any errors,” Lovell said.
According to Lovell, about 300 DSS employees will use the system that will cost the agency about $6,000 a year.
In other business, the Rev. T. Shedrick Byrd finished his last meeting as a DSS board member, having served the maximum six years one can serve as a board member.
Byrd, the pastor of Sandy Grove Baptist Church in Lumberton, served two consecutive three-year terms on the four-member board, beginning his first term in July 2008.
“I lost my mother in April of 2008, and to be put on this board in July of that year helped me fill the void,” he said. “I took the services I provided to her and tried to expand them to others.”
DSS Director Becky Morrow presented Byrd with a plaque. He was praised by Morrow, fellow board members and DSS staff present at Tuesday’s meeting as a “man of passion.”
“I want you to continue to be kind to all the people,” he told DSS board members and staff. “There is great diversity in Robeson County … We ought to represent the people of the county at every level. Realize that you are doing a ministry here.”