No Puedes Habla Espanol Aqui.
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
County leaders say they're heading off what could become a costly issue.
Chairman Randy Hatch says theoretically anyone could walk into county offices and request a copy of the commission's minutes in Spanish, Greek or even Swahili. And if it went to court, a judge could force the county to make the translation no matter the cost.
Hatch says another commissioner heard of it happening in another county. He says it's not been an issue yet, but by making English the official language, it will never become a problem.
"No, I really don't think that it's unfair to any specific group as much as it would be unfair to the taxpayers of Suwannee County to try to provide a service in light of all the budget cuts that we've been inundated with," says Hatch.
And some county residents like Slats Slater of Darling Park agree.
"I've been around the world a few times," says Slater. "I just believe in America and the English language."
But not everyone thinks it's a good idea.
The Chamber of Hispanic Affairs President Wilfredo Melendez is concerned the idea is based on unfounded fear. According to the latest census numbers, more than 7%of county residents speak something besides English at home. Melendez says if it gets to the point that those people and those taxpayers need a translation, they should be able to get one... and it won't break the budget. He adds the county should partner with groups that already work with minority residents rather than make English the official language.
The commissioners will discuss the issue at their Tuesday night meeting at the Live Oak City Hall beginning at 7 P.M.
Melendez plans to be there.
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