Sullivan HEAP applications running high; applications will be processed this weekend


Moon:  “… a plan for next year …”

MONTICELLO – We’re just now getting into the coldest few weeks of winter, but Sullivan County has received over 10,000 requests for help through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). 
County Manger Joshua Potosek announced on Friday immediate actions to address the HEAP application process at the Department of Family Services.  Starting this weekend 25 DFS staff members will be working on Saturday and 24 DFS staff members will be working on Sunday to process HEAP applications.  There will also be 41 DFS staff assigned to work extended hours starting Monday and continuing through next week. 
Potosek will be receiving updates on a daily basis to ensure that the backlog is addressed up expeditiously.  If more staff from County administrative departments are necessary to work in conjunction with DFS staff in processing applications, filing paper work, and answering and returning phone calls, The county manager will work with departments to make staff available to DFS. 
It’s an issue that is being addressed by the county Department of Health and Family Services.
Dr. William Moon came out of retirement to work as deputy commissioner to address the problem.
“What the commissioner and I and the staff are going to work on and work with our oversight committee is, hopefully, in the next couple of months, present the outline of a plan for next year that will address the issue, including the personnel issue,” Moon said.
That led to a brief debate between two Democrat county legislators.
Cindy Gieger claimed several positions were left out of the 2015 budget.
“The positions were defunded,” Gieger claimed.  “We filled three out of the request for 10, and some of these positions were senior caseworkers that would have been there in this HEAP season to jump in and process some of those caseloads. 
Kathy LaBuda disagreed with that recount of what happened.
 “In all due respect, those 10 positions, nobody ever sat there and said those positions were for HEAP,” LaBuda said. 
There have been complaints from county officials recently about both the staffing and the space at the Family Services office in Liberty.  

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