BELLEVUE - Local leaders unveiled a legislative proposal Monday that will help eliminate fraud issues.
At least that's the goal.
When a county uncovers welfare, medical assistance or FoodShare fraud, the majority of the money recovered goes to the federal government.
Now area local lawmakers want to streamline the process and give the counties a cut.
According to the Brown County Human Services Department, 23,000 households received services in 2012. But officials say not all of those services were legitimate.
"When individuals report less income than their expenses. So their rent and their utilities are more than what their household is bringing in for income. That right away is a red flag," said Jenny Hoffman, Brown County Human Services Department economic support administrator.
Hoffman says last year the department reported more than 270 cases of fraud.
Chad Weininger, a Republican State Representative from Allouez, is circulating legislation that would allow counties to keep 20 percent of the money recovered through fraud investigations.
"It streamlines and sets a standard base level at 20 percent. So everyone knows that if they hire a fraud investigator, that they're going to get "x" percentage back," said State Rep. Weininger.
In 2012, Brown County uncovered $593,214 in fraud. According to the county, a 20 percent cut, combined with savings from fraud over-payments, would amount to an estimated $264,734.
Sponsors of the bill say that money could be used to hire a new assistant district attorney, and cover the cost of two investigators for the Brown County Sheriff's Office.
"These are state and federal dollars that we're saving. And it's nice to see it come back to the county level, so we're not bearing the cost of the expenditures for providing the service," said Brown County Sheriff John Gossage.
Green Bay Democratic State Representative Eric Genrich says he hopes the funding is flexible.
"It's my hope that some counties will really be engaged in outreach efforts, to make sure that eligible individuals are taking the benefits that are coming to them," said State Rep. Genrich.
And at the Human Services Department, officials say case workers would save more than money.
"It is frustrating when households lie to them. Because really then it's taking up more of their time that they should be spending for those that are in need," said Hoffman.
Tuesday morning, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson told FOX 11 the agency would wait to see the legislation's final form before commenting on it.
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