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Published: Tuesday, 6/6/2006

State regional office in Toledo to be shut

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS - The state yesterday announced plans to close its Toledo regional office that approves plans for commercial and public construction projects.

The Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Industrial Appliance gave the office's two employees the option of moving to suburban Columbus to keep their jobs.

One of the two employees is a plans examiner paid $69,200 a year. The other is a customer service assistant paid $32,400.

The department is also closing its two other regional offices in Canton and Chillicothe. In all, the closings will affect seven state employees. A call to the Toledo office at One Government Center was referred to Columbus.

Commerce spokesman Denise Lee said the closure was triggered by a decrease in demand for the office's services in light of a growing number of counties and municipalities that handle their own blueprint approvals as well as implementation of an online service that allows design professionals to submit plans, pay fees, and download approvals from their desks.

"The consolidation, combined with the division's recently implemented Web-based plans review process, will enable us to better serve our customers and cut costs without raising fees," said Commerce Director Doug White. "It will enable the division to eliminate rent, utility, and other costs related to maintaining the regional offices."

At the current pace for fiscal year 2006, an average 30 percent reduction in the number of projects submitted to the state regional offices is projected to result in a 28 percent drop in fee revenue compared to 2004.

The Toledo office will close on June 27.



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