Published Thu, Jan 17, 2013 5:49 pm Dateline
Nearly 50 state employees in Athens County will have to make a longer commute to work later this year.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced Thursday that it will relocate the child support payment processing center and unemployment call center in The Plains to Columbus, and will consolidate 12 other administrative processing and call centers in the state.
Benjamin Johnson, spokesperson for ODJFS, said the consolidations are expected to save the human services agency about $2 million annually.
"The building in The Plains is nearly half empty," he said. "We're consolidating offices to eliminate vacant office space. This will save us $2 million in leasing and real estate costs, and this plan preserves all jobs."
Forty-seven employees currently work out of The Plains office, which is 48 percent vacant.
Johnson said the consolidations will have no impact on JFS clients, as the administrative offices provide no in-person services to the community.
He said the agency recognizes the challenges the office closures create for current employees.
"The moves will be invisible to the individuals we serve, but the most obvious challenge is there will be a longer commute for some employees" said Johnson. "However, we simply cannot continue to pay for buildings that are half empty and in some cases more."
The state also intends to close a JFS processing center in Ironton, which has just seven employees. Johnson said Ironton staff will move to a processing center in Chillicothe.
He said the office consolidation project will impact 573 JFS employees, and is set to begin this spring.