Economy impacts child support collections

LISBON – The child support current collection rate of 67.4 percent in Columbiana County is running slightly behind the statewide average, which officials attributed to the local economy.

Debbie Kempers, administrator of the county Job and Family Services’ child support enforcement agency, told county commissioners on Wednesday their collection rate is 0.5 percent lower than the statewide average because the county’s economic recovery is lagging behind other parts of Ohio.

“We’re taking a hit because of the economy,” she told them.

On the other hand, the JFS’s collection rate on delinquent child support payments, at 63.5 percent, is slightly ahead of the statewide average. The JFS is also well ahead of the statewide average on establishing paternity and child support.

The JFS collected $18.2 million in child support in 2013, down about $500,000 from the year before.

The statistics and other information were part of a presentation to commissioners by the JFS, which was promoting August as Child Support Awareness Month. A number of activities are planned, including a Child Support Summit later this month attended by local judges, court personnel and the prosecutor’s office to discuss ways to improve collection efforts.

“We try to look at barriers and fill those holes when we can,” Kempers said.

Because so many other organizations are giving free backpacks to school children in August, the JFS went a different direction to help children as they head back to school. The JFS collected gift cards and cash donations from local businesses that will be used to create about a half dozen “Family Fun & Activity Trees.” Gift cards for restaurants, movie rentals, supermarkets, etc, will be hung from the trees, with registrations for the drawing to be collected the rest of the month.

In other action, commissioners awarded the following contracts for separate projects, which went to the low bidders in both cases:

– Boak & Sons of Youngstown, $155,349, to replace the roof at the county juvenile court administration building.

– X-Press Underground of Petersburg. $195,605, to run a sewer line from County Line Road in Center Township to the new Ohio Department of Transportation garage being built to replace the old structure at the same location on U.S. Route 30.