Eau Claire County Department of Human Services under investigation

Local News

Eau Claire, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX)-Following the latest arrest of a former county employee and a string of recent financing errors. Two Eau Claire County board supervisors are pushing for a deep dive into the Department of Human Services.

In May, the Eau Claire County board of supervisors learned of a one point $1 million accounting error in the county’s Department of Human Services. Following that discovery, board supervisors Steve Chilson and Mark Beckfield approached the Eau Claire County sheriff about launching an investigation into DHS.

“As for any other hopes of the outcome, we just hope we can get our questions answered and we have some transparency into what is truly going on and what is driving these deficits, these shortages, the theft.  What things are occurring,” said Steve Chilson, Eau Claire County Board Supervisor.

“The department is currently in the fact-finding phase of the investigation. We’ve looked at some things that are very concerning that we’re following up on.  We’ve made some requests locally here from places that are receiving money from DHS and we’ll continue looking at it.” Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said.

Cramer, and the two supervisors, are now asking for more resources.  They want a forensic audit of the department done, after another theft and error was revealed this week.

“This latest theft was enough’s enough, we’ve had now 3 thefts in a very short period of time in Eau Claire County, we’ve had errors in accounting, $1.3 million in January and then just Monday another $200 to $230 thousand in error.” Mark Beckfield said.

Chilson and Beckfield said they initially raised the idea of the investigation as concerned citizens. As board supervisors, they are putting a resolution forward to full county board to release more resources to expand the current investigation.

“Mark and i will simply be bringing this forward hopefully the county board will agree and pass it so that we can begin the process of the forensic audit which takes a deeper dive into the numbers and operation of the department,” Said Chilson.

Beckfield and Chilson don’t believe the whole department of Human Services is at fault but said something needs to be done.

“The frontline workers at DHS are working hard and i really believe they are doing a great mission, but i do think that we have some definite challenges in that department that need to be addressed and addressed now cause it’s costing us millions of dollars a year in overages.  We have spent over $10 million; we’ve added over 90 employees in the last four years and we need to get our hands around the problem and now is the time.”Beckfield said. 

The resolution put forward for those additional resources will be brought to the finance committee on Monday, and Beckfield and Chilson hope it will then go to the full county board on Tuesday.

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