Atlanta Metro Area Spends Thousands on Interpreter Services
Cities throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area are spending a significant amount of their budgets a year on interpreter services in local courts for non-speaking English defendants. Gwinnett County, home to Georgia’s largest Hispanic population, spent over half-a-million on interpreter services in its court systems in 2009. Currently, Georgia law requires all defendants lacking English skills to be provided with an interpreter. The issue took center-stage when Alpharetta City was presented with the interpreter service contract for the fiscal year of 2011 at 31% increase from the previous year. The contract pays interpreters $48.99 per hour with a two-hour minimum, and covers their mileage costs.
Other counties are experiencing similar challenges and have started to reduce costs by using Spanish-speaking employees for bond hearings. Some counties are experiencing Interpreter expense decreases for Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton. However the diverse county of Gwinnett has seen a steady increase for the cost and demand of interpreters in recent years. As a whole counties across the Peach State are revising interpreter services usage and costs to determine the necessary budget cuts.
Council members of Alpharetta are reluctant to approve interpreter service contract citing that ‘many people who are neither residents nor taxpayers in Alpharetta may not be in the country legally’.