Human Services Committee discusses welfare benefits

MAYVILLE – Certain Chautauqua County legislators want New York state to establish more stringent residency requirements for the receiving of welfare benefits.

In a proposal to the legislature’s Human Services Committee on Wednesday night in Mayville, Jay Gould, R-Ashville, presented an updated version of a motion he presented last month alongside John Runkle, R-Stockton.

“We’re asking for our representatives to change the residency requirements,” Gould said.

The motion included a request that copies of the proposal be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and “all others deemed necessary and proper.”

Timothy Hoyer, D-Jamestown, did not sign the motion and had opposing views.

“More stringent is too vague. There is already a 30-day requirement (after applying for certain benefits) built in,” Hoyer said, further citing constitutional rights for those who do apply for welfare benefits.

“Why should we penalize them?” he asked.

“We think it should be equal to other states,” Gould said.

Christine Schuyler, commissioner of social services, said she sees more than 700 applications per month for public assistance with roughly 20 of them coming from out of state. In certain cases, situations such as emergencies involving domestic abuse allow applicants to receive immediate assistance.

The county has experienced an influx of out-of-state residents applying for benefits, Gould stated in the resolution, which resulted in an increase of hundreds of thousands of dollars to taxpayers. According to the resolution, people from other states have been known to come back to New York state to receive the state’s total benefit package, including Medicaid.

Gould said further discussion would take place if any changes occurred.

In other matters, the re-appointments of Dan Girts of Ashville and Jeanine Smith of Fredonia to the Chautauqua County Aging Advisory Council were discussed.

Other reappointments were approved for discussion with the full legislature including Nitasha Gruber of Mayville, Raymond Rushboldt of Dunkirk and Leah Marsala Chase of Westfield for positions on the Chautauqua County Youth Board.

The public is welcome to attend the legislature’s last meeting of the year on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Gerace Office Building in Mayville.