Harpswell increases maximum general assistance payouts

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

HARPSWELL — The Board of Selectmen on Oct. 1 raised the maximum amount people can receive in general assistance benefits from the town.

General assistance maximums are calculated each year by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and the numbers are distributed to towns and cities.

The amount of general assistance funding an applicant is eligible for is determined by the size of his or her family.

For example, a person applying for general assistance for a family of three between October 2014 and September 2015 was eligible for a maximum $954. Under the new guidelines, they are now eligible for $1,025.

Between January and December 2014, Harpswell supplied general assistance to 12 repeat applicants and five new applicants, according to town data.

Out of the $18,000 the town budgeted for general assistance in 2014, it only spent about $8,500.

For the current year, Jan. 1 to Oct. 9, Harpswell has accepted eight new applicants and 16 repeat applicants. Of the $15,000 budgeted, the town has spent just over $10,500.

Town Administrator Kristi Eiane told selectmen that the town is now reimbursed for more than half of the funding it delivers through general assistance, due to recent state legislation.

The exact number the state reimburses towns and cities is 70 percent of general assistance benefits paid, according to the nonprofit Pine Tree Legal Assistance.

Eiane also mentioned Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald’s intent to submit legislation that would require creating a website to publicly disclose the names of all people receiving general assistance.

“But,” she said, “I don’t think that’s going forward.”

“This is all a confidential program,” she added.

She said the town views general assistance as a short-term program, and that it tries to put people in touch with programs that supply longer-term relief, like food stamps and federal heating assistance.

Selectmen unanimously authorized the new maximums.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.