HARRISONBURG — For the first time in months, the Tuesday City Council meeting will have a light agenda — and no public hearings.

For regular items, there will be an update from the Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA and a consideration to approve a refund of real estate taxes for a 100% Permanent and Total disability rating by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

If the taxpayers provide paperwork showing 100% Permanent and Total disability rating by the VA, the taxpayer is refunded $6,222.36 without interest, according to a city document.

Although at the June 11 City Council meeting City Manager Eric Campbell said there were 11 expected items coming up in the next meeting, the city’s Director of Communications Michael Parks said Friday he believed what Campbell meant “is that those would be at the ‘next meeting’ where they are typically considered, that being the first meeting of the month.”

He said there are an expected 13 community development hearings at the July 9 meeting.

On the upcoming Tuesday agenda, council will consider changing a contract for the signal upgrades at Bluestone Street and Main Street.

On March 15, 2018, the city entered into a contract with DCI/Shires Inc. for the signal upgrades, according to city documents. The original contract was for $326,843.

The change order would account for the underestimated amount of sidewalk, the underestimated signal wiring and “significant amounts of rock while excavating for one signal pole foundation that required modifications to the design,” documents say.

Because the contract amendment is greater than $50,000, Virginia Code requires approval by council.

The additional funds were budgeted and appropriated in the fiscal year 2019 budget.

Council will consider reallocating $200,000 to Harrisonburg City Public Schools.

Council would be transferring $80,000 to cover the division’s share of the roof and public address system replacement costs at the Massanutten Technical Center.

Also, $50,000 would go to administration, attendance and health function to cover increased cost of legal fees, according to city documents.

About $20,000 would be used to repave the entrance to Thomas Harrison Middle School and $50,000 to purchase Advanced Malware, protection software and Chromebooks for dual language classes.

Council will also consider a reallocating $1,145,000 from the General Fund to the General Capital Projects Fund for a number of projects.

Around $95,000 will go toward Westover Pool improvements, $400,000 to the HVAC project at the Rockingham County Jail and $640,000 for the Martin Luther King Jr. Way bridge project.

Another $10,000 will go toward Fire Station 4.

City documents say that the reallocation will also move around $166,393 from the MLK Jr. Way improvement hotel-conference center project to the MLK Jr. Way bridge project with the General Capital Project Fund.

In other news, Parks said the Interpretation Services Pilot Program will begin soon for City Council and Planning Commission meetings.

Assistant to the City Manager Amy Snider will be meeting with the interpreters in the next few days, Parks said.

The available languages will be Spanish, Arabic and Kurdish. Parks said city staff is in the process of determining how many interpreters will be available for the program.

Two types of interpretation will be available, which include simultaneous interpretation, which is interpretation that is translated in real-time through the use of a headset and headphones, and consecutive interpretation, which would be used for an individual speaking in shorter segments while the interpreter listens and then delivers the speech in another language.

Consecutive interpretation would be used for when residents want to speak during instances such as public comment.

In a presentation by Snider at the May 14 council meeting, she said the program will require individuals in need of the interpreter to submit their request at least four days prior to the meeting in which the service is needed.

The city would utilize the interpretation equipment owned by the Harrisonburg City Public Schools on as “as-needed basis,” according to city documents. It would cost $30 per hour of service.

City Council will meet at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 409 S. Main St.

Contact Laine Griffin at 574-6286 or lgriffin@dnronline.com. Follow Laine on Twitter @laine_griffDNR

(3) comments


FROM A LEGAL OR CONSTITUTIONAL POINT OF VIEW What procedure will the city council use to justify discriminating against those who do not speak the privileged languages listed in the article? Is an Estonian to be told, tough luck, Charlie? Is an Indian to be told to bring her own interpreter? Is a right or a government granted privilege extended to one group but denied to another acceptable? Is a government service provided to some but denied to others based on a head count or ethnicity really democracy in action? If 20 people request headsets in advance but there are only 10 headsets available, who will discriminate between who will and who will not get a head set? Will they be issued based on some population oriented quota? Or perhaps on a first come first served basis? Would such a denial to some not fly in the face of the vaunted worshipping of democracy? Are the city lawyers prepared for the inevitable lawsuits from language speakers denied interpretation services? Can such actions be anticipated? To quote Ms. Reed, It’s a no brainer.


FROM A TECHNICAL AND COST POINT OF VIEW The process of engaging in simultaneous interpretation requires much more than headsets and headphones. It requires a transmitter which in the case of multiple language interpretations means a transmitter capable of handling at least 4 languages with module options for adding more. There must also be receiver headsets for each person wishing to listen to the interpreter of their language. The interpreters should also be somewhat isolated from nearby noise so that they do not distract the other interpreters or audience members in the chamber. Such a setup, if done correctly, will easily run into 5 figures excluding the most fundamental component of all, the interpreters. Given that the ability to interpret almost instantly requires a highly skilled interpreter, this will also be a sizeable cost assuming such skilled interpreters are even available in this area. The work around for using less skilled interpreters would be to have them functioning at a consecutive level which is much slower. The speakers, council members and others would be required to speak a couple of sentences and then wait for the interpreters to interpret into the headsets. It will be even slower when two interpretations have to take place. For example, a resident commenter addresses the city council in Spanish and consecutive interpretation into English must take place for the audience and then that English interpretation must be interpreted from English by the various interpreters into Arabic and Kurdish and any other language that will undoubtedly be added later with the attendant extra cost. Since the council members are already complaining about the already lengthy meetings, can one guess at how much longer the meeting will become?


FROM A PHILOSOPHICAL POINT OF VIEW At The risk of being accused of repeating myself, which I am, one of the easier ways to fragment and balkanize a community is to discourage or make unnecessary the learning of the host culture’s language. It also suggests to potential citizens that rather than relying on personal initiative they should instead rely on politicians and taxpayer funded programs (and yes, this will eventually become a mandatory taxpayer funded service (much sooner than later)). If one is a citizen or an applicant for citizenship and has not bothered to learn English he or she should not inject himself or herself into a civic setting – especially not into city council meetings. If one is neither a citizen nor an applicant one should not inject himself into a city council or any other governmental meeting whether he or she speaks English or not. This also applies to “city services”. It should be the responsibility of the non-English speaker to provide his own translator (be that a friend or volunteer) other than for emergency communication (police, fire, ambulance).

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