November 17. 2013 9:43PM

Lebanon eyes cutting its welfare department

Union Leader Correspondent

LEBANON — City Manager Greg Lewis says he would like to restructure the city’s welfare department.

Lewis presented his plan at a budget workshop at City Hall Wednesday night. “As you know, our Human Service director has resigned, and the resignation has been accepted by myself and that I am in the midst of bringing a proposal to you to restructure,” Lewis advised City Council members.

The City Charter allows for a restructuring of departments, however, “It’s never been done before so this is a first,” Lewis said. “So I’m restructuring by essence of eliminating the department and merging the department under the city manager’s office.”

He or the deputy city manager would be directly responsible for overseeing the department, Lewis said.

Lewis said he would like to create a general assistance benefits manager position to replace the director of Human Services position. This new position would focus on applicants coming into the office to determine eligibility and terminations.

Lewis said his plan is a “double-edged sword” since it would improve benefits for residents, which could cost the city more.

“It will provide people more assistance and support than they have received in the past,” Lewis said.

Lewis said, though, he would like to create a “shared effort” between local nonprofits and private donations to offset property tax funds used to support city welfare spending.

“I don’t think that what we contribute meets the need. I think that’s clear,” Lewis said.

Other types of funding would create flexibility in how the city can help the city’s low-income residents.