By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Investigations into people who are defrauding the state out of money for assistance are on track to double this year in Williams County.
The update on the fraud investigations came May 19 when new Jobs and Family Services Director Fred Lord appeared before the Board of County Commissioners. Ford updated the board on what he has been doing as well as what the county’s lone investigator is up to.
Jane Yahraus is the program supervisor and fraud investigator. She has been slowly building her caseload since she began working part time on fraud and benefit recovery in 2014.
In that year she established eight claims. In 2015, that number grew to 26, and with 25 claims established so far this year, she is on her way to doubling last year’s total.
The county has been without a full-time investigator since 2009.
The state provides incentives to counties to investigate fraud cases by returning 35 percent of the claims collected. Non-fraud claims from inadvertent household error return 20 percent, Yahraus said.
The county collected $4,100 in 2013; $6,582 in 2014 and $9,220 in 2015.
Fulton County’s JFS investigated 77 claims in 2015 worth $114,000. They received $21,000 incentives.
Williams County ranked 63rd out of 86 counties in caseload size in 2015. The county moved up from 83rd place to 70th from 2013 to 2015 for number of claims established and from 83rd to 79th in total collections.
“That’s not a quite as big a jump, but it is move in the right direction,” Yahraus said.
To help promote fraud awareness, the department is distributing bright lime green shopping bags with the “Fraud Costs” logo and contact information. The department is also handing out placards to grocery and convenience stores listing the types of fraud and the penalties for committing such acts.
-Up to eight years in prison and
-Up to $15,000 in fines plus reimbursement
-Disqualification from the Food Assistance Program for 12 months up to a lifetime.
If you see cases of fraud, call 419-636-6725.
As for the JFS overall, Lord said he has been dealing with a resignation of an employee and posting a job. He has shifted some clerical staff away from the front window.
The department will begin conducting performance evaluations in January, something that hasn’t been done in several years, Lord said.
“I hope to use the evaluations as part of their compensation,” Lord said.
Talks with the union are going well, he said.
Lord has begun having daily supervisors meeting and so far it has been received well.
He plans to have wireless internet installed at the office.
In other news:
The cost of the Courthouse Tower and Roof project continues to rise with two new change orders.
The Board of County Commissioners approved funding requests for additional work at the May 19 meeting. The projects added $14,690 to the bill.
The extra work included two soil stacks on the southeast side of the courthouse for $2,200. The other work included replacing all of the floor deck on Level B ($8,350) and 25 percent of the floor deck on Level D ($4,140).
The change orders have now boosted the cost from its original $1,469,890 to $1,485,380.
The board approved a lease for one-third of the east portion of a building at 116 Beech St., in Bryan with 4 Leaf Properties not to exceed $4,800. The lease runs from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2017.
The board approved the purchase of 2,200 tons of road salt by the Engineer’s Office through the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The board approved $4,200 for rent of an equipment storage area for maintenance.
James Pruitt may be reached at