LISBON - The Columbiana County Board of Elections is expected to need an additional $65,000 to get through the year, although the projected shortfall will have no impact on the Nov. 6 general election.
"It won't affect the election, but we'll need it by the end of the year," elections board director Adam Booth said during Monday's regular meeting.
Booth expects the expenditures this year will total about $610,000, and county commissioners only appropriated them $546,000, which is $30,000 less than last year despite the fact 2012 is a presidential year.
Presidential elections are more expensive for several reasons, with the biggest being that voter turnout is usually much higher, resulting in more requests from people wishing to vote by mail than during non-presidential election years. During the last presidential election year of 2008, the elections board spent $630,650.
Booth has spoken with commissioners informally and intends to send them a letter formally advising of them of the pending anticipated shortfall.
Elections officials knew the money commissioners provided at the beginning of 2012 was insufficient to cover office operations for the entire year since it was less than 2011 levels. Commissioners cuts most department budgets by 5 percent to offset an anticipated funding shortfall.
Even with the additional revenue to be requested by the board, Booth expects their final spending figures will be less than the 2008 presidential year. The board was surprised to hear this, especially since they are now required to pick up the $45,000 cost of the computer system maintenance contract, which the state had paid for with federal funds until this year.
"I think we're just managing things better," Booth said, pointing to the consolidation of polling places as one area where significant savings has been achieved.
In related news, Booth reported they have begun looking for new polling places in several areas, either by request or because of the need to find better parking and facilities.
Salem School Superintendent Tom Bratten asked Booth to consider finding alternative polling places instead of continuing to use the three elementary schools in Salem, and Booth agreed to consider the request by searching for possible alternative locations. A polling place would still be located at Salem High School.
"Even though they want us to move, we should make sure we have good alternatives," said board member David Johnson, adding they prefer using as many public buildings as possible as polling places because of the convenience and to save money.
Other polling place changes being considered are:
- Copeland Hills Golf Course in Fairfield Township, with the township administration building being considered as the new polling place.
- The church in New Garden in Hanover Township. The new polling location being considered would be in one of the United Local school buildings.
- The New Waterford Fire Department, which would be relocated to the New Waterford Methodist Church.
- Highlandtown Fire Hall, which would be relocated to one of the Southern Local school buildings.
Booth emphasized these options are only under consideration at this point and not necessarily written in stone. He expects to come back with his final recommendations in time for their September meeting.