Press-Republican

Local News

May 5, 2013

Commissioner of Child and Family Services retires

PLATTSBURGH — For the past 17 years, Jay T. LePage has headed one of the busiest departments in Clinton County.

He has managed to do so mostly flying under the radar. But make no mistake, this man has kept plenty busy.

“People don’t realize just how many people and how much money comes through this department,” LePage said recently.

“We see about $111 million in Medicaid benefits and about $19 million in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) each year, and our staff deals with about 22,400 visitors each month in one form or another.”

LePage, 63, has retired as commissioner of the county’s Department of Child and Family Services, effective April 26. He sat down with the Press-Republican recently to talk about his career and the issues his department had to deal with.

COSTS DOWN

A former county legislator from Area 7 in Peru, LePage took over the department on Dec. 4, 1995, after serving in the legislature for six years.

The department has about 200 employees providing county residents with numerous services.

Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, public assistance, Social Security Disability and Child Protective Services are the main divisions of the department.

Those have been known to be among the most costly of government programs for counties across the state, but LePage and his administration have been able to keep costs manageable, something of which he is proud.

“We’ve been able to keep our local share of the budget under 1 percent of growth per year, and we’ve worked hard to keep costs down.”

The local share of the department’s budget is about $48 million.

CLIENTS UP

Despite their best efforts to control costs, the number of clients has risen throughout LePage’s career.

The number of people receiving Medicaid when he took over was about 6,900. Now, it’s about 17,000.

Those receiving SNAP went from about 5,700 to 11,895 this year.

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