Douglas to debate child support fine, decide how to handle federal requirement for new system |

Douglas to debate child support fine, decide how to handle federal requirement for new system

Christy Chalmers, Tribune News Service

MINDEN – Douglas County officials are expecting to be fined soon for an infraction they didn’t commit, involving a computer system they don’t want.

The system in question may cause delays in collecting child support and errors in the county’s 1,450 cases, and county leaders may be faced with trading an efficient, accurate system for one the federal government is requiring.

The County Commission is scheduled to hear more about it on Thursday.

The fine involves a child support case tracking system called NOMADS, which is required by the federal government. Nevada missed the fall 1997 deadline for statewide compliance and is facing an estimated $3.9 million fine this year. State officials have suggested they could pay a third of the fine, with counties making up the rest.

“It is a pass-through of a sanction, but it’s not for something the county did wrong,” said District Attorney Scott Doyle. “It’s something the state did wrong and is passing through to the counties.”

For Douglas, that could mean $43,500 to $45,000 in addition to the $240,000 budgeted for child support for the coming year. Doyle expects to have a firm number by early May.

Douglas officials already have an unfavorable impression of the NOMADS system. The state picked Washoe, Douglas and Clark counties as pilots to test and implement the system.

The experience has been stressful.

“The NOMADS system is extremely complex and it’s very difficult to work in,” Doyle said. “We’re trying to make the best of it. It does not suit the needs of how the counties do business. It is going to have a very adverse effect on the long-term operations of how we do business.”

Douglas County, which began trying to convert its files to the system in December 1998, doesn’t have personnel to devote entirely to implementing NOMADS like the larger counties do. And it already has a system that works well.

“I’m not saying we’re the best child support collection program in the state, but we are among the best,” said Doyle. “We have had a good program in this county for the past eight-plus years.”

Doyle said the county commissioners have a few options to consider. They could continue with their existing program, try a regional approach by teaming with neighboring counties or drop the agreement with the state that governs the child support program.

Doyle said he’s not sure what would happen if that agreement was terminated. Eureka and Storey counties dropped theirs and the state took over their child support programs, he said. Esmeralda may do the same.

Continuing with NOMADS, he predicted, could ultimately mean delayed child support payments, longer delays in enforcement and errors in individual cases.

The commission meets at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Stateline at the county administration building.

What: Douglas County commission

When: 1:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: County administration building, 175 Highway 50, Stateline.

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