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Splitting the Taxpayer's Money

April 2, 2013 permalink

What is the best way to use $170,000 in leftover funds from federal taxpayers? Divvy it up among child support workers. That is what prosecutor Mike Shipman is doing in Indiana. He mimics the behavior of the the Wichihik Iskewak Safe House in Regina (a women's shelter), where staff handled $29,552 in donations by splitting nearly half of it among themselves.



Prosecutor plans to give bonus money to child support employees

Some Wayne County officials question fairness of using federal incentive funds in such a manner

Mike Shipman
Mike Shipman

Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Shipman says he plans to share federal incentive money with the seven employees in his child support division.

Shipman came to the Wayne County Personnel Committee last week to explain his plan and ask for the opinion of committee members.

“We have struggled for years with maintaining employees in the child support division,” Shipman told the committee. “The nature of the job, coupled with relatively low starting salaries, make it hard to recruit and retain good employees.

“The use of some of the incentive money is designed to make the job more attractive to new employees and motivate other employees to stay with the office,” he said.

Shipman said he has about $170,000 in the incentive fund that has accumulated over several years. The money comes from the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Administration of Children & Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The funds are disbursed to each state for child support purposes, based on the performance of each state in four different areas: paternity establishment, support order establishment, current support collections and back support collections.

The Indiana Child Support Bureau retains 22.2 percent of the incentive funds to operate the state’s central collection unit, and the rest is allocated to individual counties based on performance.

Shipman told committee members he plans to use about half of the incentive funds for what he called an “employee benefit program.”

County attorney Ron Cross reminded committee members that by state statute, the funds must be used for child support services exclusively and their disbursement is entirely up to Shipman’s discretion.

Shipman pointed out the incentive money can be used to “supplement rather than supplant other funds used for child support establishment and enforcement purposes.” He said he plans to dole out the incentive money based on years of service in the office.

The office consists of child support deputy prosecutor Staci Terry and six case workers.

County Councilman Chris Beeson said he opposed sharing the money with employees because he said it was unfair to county employees in other offices.

“This is something we’ve never gotten into,” Beeson said. “Just because this department has the money and can do it, I don’t think other offices are going to see it as being fair to all employees.”

County council chairman Jeff Plasterer questioned “whether it’s appropriate in that most offices generate revenue.”

“Through recording fees and fines, almost every office brings in revenue,” he said. “It’s not a typical practice to say because you bring in $5, you could return that to your employees.”

But Councilman Al Dillon said he believed “this is a good use of the money.”

“It provides incentives. They’re making money, and I feel some of it should go back to them,” he said.

Source: Palladium Item