IBO Releases long-awaited study on cost for city to provide translation and
Interpretation services

Middle Village NY — Recently the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO), at the request of the City Council Republican delegation, analyzed the costs to the city of the various translation and interpretation mandates on its agencies. In a letter, dated September 18, 2009, IBO gave their response: $26.9 million in 2009 with incremental costs to increase by about $1.9 million in 2010; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the letter, signed by IBO Director Ronnie Lowenstein:
“The total citywide cost of language access programs, including both new programs resulting from Executive Order 120 and programs already being implemented was $26.9 million in 2009. IBO requested that the agencies break out their language costs into three categories: personal service costs, contract costs; and all other costs. Of the citywide total costs, $12.6 million or 47 percent was for personal services, $12.1 million or 45 percent was far contracted services (primarily for translation and interpretation), and the remaining $2.2 million or 8 percent was for miscellaneous costs such as printing and signage.”

Former Councilman Ognibene said: “For years we fought to bring essential service to our community especially to provide public safety. Every dollar spent on translation services is a dollar less that the city has to hire more police officers or to keep firehouses operating. In an era of tight budget constraints , it is ludicrous for the City to spend tens of million of dollars on such services especially when it comes to election materials and ballots where every citizen is required to have a working knowledge of the English language. I believe our top priority should be public safety — to ensure that we have the police and fire protection that we need to keep our communities safe and secure and address quality of life crimes. In the era of multi-billion dollar deficits every dollar counts.”