WJTV News Channel 12 - Pitt County DSS Director to retire amid controversy

Pitt County DSS Director to retire amid controversy

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George Perry George Perry

Pitt County Director of Social Services is on his way out under a cloud of controversy. George Perry announced his retirement Tuesday night. 

Pitt County Public Information Officer Kiara Jones says Perry turned in his retirement letter to the DSS Board Chair, Johnie Hamilton. Jones says it is effective February 1, 2014.

Last week, Commissioner Glen Webb accused the department of not being prepared for the new NC FAST system, the state's reporting tool for food stamps and Medicaid. Webb accused employees of shredding new applications to keep back log numbers down.

9 On Your Side asked Perry if his retirement is connected to Webb's claims. Following last week's commission meeting Perry declined to comment on the allegations last week but willingly sat down for an interview on Wednesday and says his retirement has nothing to do with his decision.

‘Well I'm 65 years of age. I have over 35 years in the retirement system and I felt like this is as good of a time as any," Perry said.

Perry also addressed the allegations. "Cases are not lost. Everything is kept in a system, NC FAST system so that they know how many are redetermined in a given month. We know how many were completed."

Perry says those checks and balances ensure people are served and says he and his employees have done their best through the transition. "I stand by my employees that they have done an outstanding job."

Commissioner Webb says Perry's retirement should not affect their investigation. Webb says that when you have serious allegations they need to be investigated.

As for Perry's retirement letter, the county said we could not have a copy of it as it is not public record.

According to the county's Human Resources Department Perry's retirement will come from the state's pension fund. Perry currently earns $99,117.


Previous story

The state's newest reporting tool for food stamp and medicaid benefits, "NC FAST" caused quite a stir at Monday's Pitt County Commission meeting.

Thanks to the new system, people are still reporting delays in getting their benefits. Commissioners say their constituents are fed up with excuses and want answers after getting the run around.

Wayne Black the Division Director of the State's Social Services provided commissioners with an update on the NC FAST System as it pertains to Pitt County and the State. He bragged about local director George Perry and the county.

After running through some of the challenges the county faced, Black and his colleague Dean Simpson were questioned by commissioners.

Commissioner Tom Coulson questioned why staff wasn't more prepared to roll out the system launched in May 2013. "You're telling me that these concepts have been known for over 12 years and proposed for 12 years and they couldn't start this?"

State officials say when the system went online in May, 82% of cases were left unprocessed. This created a backlog that left thousands without benefits.

"We had 100-125 in line, we had to give them numbers for them to come back the next day," Commissioner Eugene James said.

"That is very disturbing, that means that the paperwork was either received back at the agency and it was not completed and entered in the system, or that they didn't go around to doing the work," Simpson admitted.

Following the presentation Commissioner Glen Webb alleged there's still a backlog. But the local director denied those claims.

Webb called for a full investigation on the county's Department of Social Services. Webb says he has reason to believe that employees shredded new food stamp applications to keep backlog numbers down.

"I'm a criminal investigator and when something doesn't smell right I start asking questions and I've started asking some questions on the side. There are some people in this county that need some whistle blower protection to come through and there needs to be an investigation," Webb said.

In addition to those claims Webb alleges applications of disappearing off employees desks.  He says if the county is going to continue to give the Department of Social Services $28 million to operate, he wants the commission to have more oversight.

In a split vote (8-1), commissioners asked for staff to look into these allegations.

Mr. Perry declined to comment on such allegations. 



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