AUBURN | Cayuga County is in line for $40,000 in state funds to combat child care fraud in the Department of Social Services, and District Attorney Jon Budelmann is seeking to parlay that money into a new part-time assistant prosecutor to handle the legal work.

The $40,000 will be spread among DSS, the district attorney's office and the sheriff's office to help stem child care fraud and prosecute it when it occurs.

The state, which reimburses counties 100 percent for child care, estimates that between 10 and 40 percent of expenditures are fraudulent, County DSS Director Elane Daly said.

"This $40,000 will really enhance our DSS work around day care fraud," she said. "This will push us more into the day care area than we were a year ago."

For Budelmann, the additional child care work is one of two new tasks on his plate.

In March, his office received approval for a part-time welfare fraud investigator to work in conjunction with DSS to find and prosecute people improperly receiving benefits.

Between that and the day care work, Budelmann said he might need additional staff to handle prosecutions and asked for a new part-time assistant district attorney.

That person's $19,000 salary would be paid partly through the new DSS grant. The remaining $4,800 would come from the county's contingency fund, and the Legislature's Ways and Means committee approved the expenditure Tuesday.

The resolution still needs to pass the full Legislature April 24, but has already garnered support from a majority of legislators.

In other news:

* The committee met in executive session after its meeting to discuss contract negotiations with two employee unions.

County Administrator Thomas Squires said that is likely to become a regular feature of the monthly Ways and Means meetings as the county seeks an agreement with its union employees.

The 2012 budget passed last winter provides no raise for any of the four unions, meaning the pressure is on the Legislature to make that salary freeze stick in negotiations.

Staff writer Justin Murphy can be reached at 282-2237 or justin.murphy@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter at CitizenMurphy.

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