The cost of interpreting services at the County Courthouse has increased 75 percent compared to last year, the County Auditor’s office recently reported.

Council of Judges Administrator Mike Izquierdo attributed the increase to a shortage in certified court English-Spanish interpreters in El Paso.

The vacancy of three of the five full-time interpreter positions at the courthouse has led to the hiring of freelance interpreters, which is much more expensive than paying a permanent employee, Izquierdo said.

From the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year in October until the end of June, the county spent $17,700 in freelance interpreting services, compared to $4,000 spent during the same time in 2013, said Wally Hardgrove, the county’s budget and finance manager.

In addition, on June 26, County Commissioners Court approved to transfer $5,000 from a council of judges account to the account for interpreting services to cover additional interpreting charges.

Izquierdo said the money is primarily use to contract English-Spanish interpreters, who charge about $70 per hour. The interpreting services account also covers sign language services.

The average starting salary for an English-Spanish interpreter in the county is $47,000 plus benefits, Izquierdo said.

Although the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that 73 percent of the population in El Paso County speaks a language besides English and there are only 28 licensed English-Spanish interpreters in El Paso, Izquierdo said. More.

See: El Paso Times

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