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Published: Friday, 1/18/2013

Maumee, Bowling Green Job and Family Services staff to work from One Government Center

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — A state agency plans to close its regional offices in Maumee and Bowling Green and consolidate its operations at One Government Center in downtown Toledo.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ office in Tiffin also will close, with its employees moved either to Toledo or Lima.

The move would affect 87 employees working in Maumee at 1684 Woodlands Dr., 31 in Bowling Green at 1234 N. Main St., and 25 in Tiffin at 668 Miami St.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services does not have an office in Toledo.

The moves are part of a broader statewide plan that affects 13 offices and 573 employees. The state expects to save $2 million a year.

“I realize that moving to a new location will present challenges for some employees,” said Michael B. Colbert, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. “However, we owe it to those we serve to operate as efficiently as possible. This plan preserves jobs, prioritizes people over buildings, and maintains the agency’s statewide presence.”

These offices do not directly deal with members of the public walking in for services.

They primarily work with unemployment compensation claims submitted online or over the phone. Some of the offices also handle adoption, foster care, child care, and child support issues.

Sally Meckling, spokesman for the Ohio Civil Services Employees Association that represents many of the affected employees, said the decision represents a double whammy for some workers who already make longer commutes because of another consolidation that occurred four years ago.

“We were not involved in this decision,” she said. “The administration did not ask for input on this. We believe this decision was made by government insiders without input from the people in those communities and definitely not the workers.”

“We don’t think there is an understanding of the huge impact this will have on communities and families,” she said.

The state expects to realize most of its savings by pulling out of regional offices with a lot of vacant space. Mr. Johnson said the Bowling Green space was underutilized by 39 percent; Maumee, 26 percent, and Tiffin, 24 percent.

The moves are expected to be completed by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, when many leases would have been up for renewal.

“Downtown Toledo made sense because we have a state-owned building there that has space to house our offices,” said Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the state Job and Family Services agency. “We’re also trying to minimize the impact on the people who work in these closing offices. We looked for places that could maintain a larger office but still be a practical commute.”

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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