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Translation call services in demand at county office

11/22/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — An influx of refugees into the area has resulted in the need for more translation services for a county department, Summit County Council members learned Nov. 19.

During that day’s Health and Human Services Committee meeting, members recommended Council adopt legislation allowing a change order to a contract with Language Line Services Inc. for client translation services. The change will add an additional $17,500 to the contract, a 70 percent increase.

Steve Zimmerman, deputy director of administration for the Department of Job and Family Services, said the calls for interpretive services have more than doubled during the last six months due to increased emphasis on refugees who receive Ohio Works First cash meeting federal work participation requirements.

The agency averages 94 of the calls monthly, Zimmerman said, with the average cost per call coming in at $20.52.

Zimmerman said the refugees needing the translation services are from a variety of countries, including Nepal, Burma and Somalia.

The committee also recommended Council adopt a resolution allowing an extension of agreements with employers taking part in the Subsidized Employment Program through the county.

Zimmerman said the program is intended to help transition clients form the Work Experience Program to a wage-earning job with an employer. Fifty-eight clients took part in the program with 20 employers from June 2011 to September 2012, he added. Participants must be Temporary Assistance to Needy Families-eligible, Zimmerman said.

During the Finance Committee meeting, members recommended Council adopt a resolution authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds in the aggregate maximum amount of $19 million for the purpose of re-funding certain maturities of general obligation bonds issued in 2002 and 2003.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff in the Executive’s Office, said the bonds will be refinanced, and the county projects it will save about $350,000 annually in interest.

In other business, the Public Safety Committee recommended Council adopt a resolution allowing the purchase of 60 desktop computers and monitors for the Summit County Juvenile Court.

David Horner, assistant court administrator, said the court’s current computers are about seven years old. He said the 60 new units would replace about half of the office’s computers.

Committee members asked Horner if the court has installed wireless technology or considered that, and he said the cost is too much for the court to afford at this time.

Following committee meetings, Council conducted budget hearings with the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board; the clerk of courts; prosecutor; Child Support Enforcement Agency; and Children Services.

Council will meet Nov. 26 at 5 p.m. for caucus and 5:05 p.m. for the regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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