July 24, 2008

City of Killeen implementing a bilingual pay incentive program

Updated: Jul 24, 2008 6:55pm
The city of Killeen is trying to improve communication with a diverse and growing population.

Human Resources assistant for the city of Killeen Anita Casiano says she looks forward to a new bilingual incentive program.

"There's lots of people that come in and don't know that much English, that are coming from other states, sometimes Hispanic people looking for advice" Casiano said.

She says communicating with non-English speakers is a daily duty. Now, city staff who speak a second language could receive between $50 and $75 a month depending how well they test on their certification programs.

The estimated cost of the bilingual program is about $54,000, but city staff says the benefits will be hard to measure.”

According to a the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, about 20 percent of the Killeen population is Hispanic or Latino nearly 5 percent is Asian which includes a growing Korean population.

"One of the things we want to do is to provide better services, and to be able to communicate in the language they understand most clearly." Human Resources Director Debbie Maynor said.

Killeen police officers must pass the highest level of language proficiency to communicate at crime scenes, and later write accident reports. "That's why we need bilingual pay, to make sure the citizens get the treatment they deserve." Killeen City Council member Juan Rivera said.

Through better communication with city staff. City department heads will identify needed language skills. Then the city manager must approve the extra money, before the tests are taken.

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