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Bills are mounting in DSS situation; who is accountable?

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Bills continue to mount as the Department of Social Services Board continues to deal with whatever is related to the recent firing of longtime DSS director Jamie Orrock.

Last week the board voted to fire Orrock. For what, we still don’t know.

What we do know is the bills for the investigation into whatever claims against Orrock that led to his firing are adding up.

While Orrock has been on leave, the county paid almost $25,000 in salary and more than $6,000 in benefits for him. The board is also paying for the interim DSS director who was hired while Orrock was still on leave, but before he was fired. Interim director Neil Walters is earning about $7,000 a month.

But those administrative bills are merely icing on the cake.

PDS Investigations, the private investigation firm hired to look into the DSS situation, has to date billed DSS about $5,500 for services.

And there’s more.

Former DSS board attorney Norwood Blanchard billed the board more than $4,500 for his legal services. After he was let go, the board hired its current attorney Gary Shipman. The county has agreed to pay Shipman $275 an hour for legal services, $225 an hour for associates’ legal services, and $75 per hour for paralegal services. He also gets to claim 52 cents per mile for travel expenses outside Brunswick County and additional fees for copies and travel expenses.

The DSS bills for Shipman have been mounting since his contract was approved on Sept. 3.

What does all this mean?

It means Brunswick County taxpayers are footing this ever-growing bill, and guess what else? You have no real clue what it’s all about.

The DSS board has declined to comment on the nature of the allegations against Orrock or what happened that led this board to fire a longtime county employee.

The public has the right to know.

It also deserves to know when a resolution to this situation will be found. When will this one department stop bleeding money? In this economy—in any economy—the amount spent on this situation is questionable.

It’s time for the board to make a public statement on what’s gone on. Taxpayers footing this bill have the right to know.