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Chautauqua County Social Services Commissioner Charles Ferraro is offering county residents a Christmas present -- a drop in welfare costs.

While the county's Social Services appropriation will jump by $1.1 million from $7,174,000 in 1986 to $8,275,000 in 1991, the county can't control that figure.

The county does control the cost of delivering welfare programs. That will drop from $1,141,000 in 1986 to $1,116,000 appropriated in 1991 -- a savings of $25,600.

Ferraro credits his department with taking an aggressive approach towards enhancing revenue and reducing costs.

Ferraro called the SCROOGE program "a major player" in the revenue-enhancement category.

"We were able to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the county by collecting child support for families previously being paid by welfare," he said.

SCROOGE -- an acronym for Support Children, Remember Obligations, Or Get Embarrassed -- took an aggressive approach to child support, threatening to publicize the names of those who didn't pay.

The commissioner pledged continuing efforts to trim costs and boost revenue, pointing to a "cluster home" concept to cut the costs of institutionalizing children.

"It should enable us to keep these kids in the county and give them the kind of care they need in a specialized environment but not in institutions."

He attributed the savings to Social Services employees.

"Our employees really care," Ferraro said. "They understand it is their money going out. They don't spend it if they don't have to."

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