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Relocation Of 3 State Jobs Irks Olman

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services plans to move three employees from Toledo to Columbus - and an area state lawmaker is angry.

The state Office of Child Support employees are being relocated to Columbus, starting May 25, because the state is "broadening their duties and these are things they can do from basically any location," said Jon Allen, spokesman for the state Department of Job and Family Services.

The employees - whose salaries range from $60,000 to $65,000 a year - work in the 94-employee Toledo district office at One Government Center. They monitor and provide assistance to child-support enforcement agencies. Plans call for them to work in the Rhodes Tower in Columbus, Mr. Allen said.

State Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) has asked Tom Hayes, director of job and family Services, to reconsider the decision. "With modern communication technology such as e-mail, teleconferencing, and video conferencing just to name a few, the need for centralized offices are no longer necessary," Mr. Olman wrote in a letter to Mr. Hayes.

"In addition, there will be significant expenses to the state to relocate the affected families. This is an expense that seems unnecessary at a time of fiscal crisis. These high-paying, recession-proof jobs are very important to Toledo and Lucas County," Mr. Olman added.

The three Toledo employees are among seven Office of Child Support workers from Cuyahoga, Stark, Hamilton, and Lucas counties who the state is transferring to Columbus.

Mr. Allen said the state will spend from $4,000 to $5,000 per employee for relocation costs.

Demetra Petros, an Office of Child Support employee who has worked in the Toledo district office for nearly 20 years, said she does not want to move to Columbus, in part because she needs to care for her 82-year-old mother.

In 1995, Gov. George Voinovich signed into law a bill that Mr. Olman sponsored requiring an 18-month study of the impact of moving more state jobs from Columbus to other parts of the state.

The study was a major plank of the "Other Ohio" movement, a coalition of newspaper executives and public officials who had a common perception that a disproportionate share of state resources go to the Three C’s: Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati. The Blade’s editorial page was a major supporter of the movement.

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