MONROE – Union County is taking steps to improve child support enforcement.
County leaders agreed to a $2 million two-year contract, beginning Sept. 1, with Veritas HHS LLC to oversee the child support enforcement program.
Attorneys Tracy Regan and Erin Hucks cautioned county commissioners before the July 15 vote about entering into a contract with Veritas.
Their firm, Hucks & Regan LLP, has been contracted to serve as the county’s child support attorneys through YoungWilliams since 2011. Both were concerned Veritas would replace them with people from out of state.
Regan offered letters of support from district court judges that recommend them to stay on as counsel in child support enforcement courts.
“We’ve built relationships with everybody from deputies to clerks in the courthouses to the judges and other attorneys we work within Union County,” Regan told commissioners.
The decision to approve the contract had been part of the meeting’s consent agenda, which is usually a bundle of routine items approved at the same time. After hearing the objections from Hucks and Regan, Commissioner Stony Rushing wanted to pull out the item from the consent agenda to discuss further.
Ashley Lantz, Union County’s Director of Social Services, said they ultimately went with Veritas because Union County ranks 84th out of North Carolina’s 100 counties when it comes to child support enforcement, citing federal measures that include late payments and how much money is collected.
“We know that we can be better than that,” Lantz said of the 84th ranking. “Our county, although it is somewhat divided in the amount of money folks make depending on where you live, we are a pretty well off county compared to others in North Carolina. I think we can do much better than 84 of 100.”
Veritas submitted an incentive plan based on whether they can move the county up the state rankings. Lantz said the firm helped Buncombe County move up several spots to second in the rankings.
Lantz said Veritas will use an attorney on staff solely focused on child support enforcement in Union County. That attorney currently lives in Waxhaw.
Commissioners accepted Lantz’s explanation of why they went with Veritas and approved the contract.