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Election costs on the rise

May 11, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - Jefferson County commissioners Thursday agreed to appropriate more money to the county board of elections to cover increased expenses associated with the upcoming presidential election.

Frank Bruzzese, board of elections board member, said presidential elections are always more expensive to conduct, especially this year when every voter will receive an application for an absentee ballot. The commissioners appropriated $605,000 to the board of elections, with the state contributing an additional $17,000 for mapping congressional districts.

Bruzzese said the board of elections spent $746,000 four years ago during the presidential election.

Commissioners agreed to appropriate an additional $102,000 to the board of elections, bringing the budget total to $722,000. Bruzzese said that should be enough to cover expenses associated with the general election in November.

The extra money comes from charge backs to villages, townships and cities for elections in 2011. The county auditor's office takes the costs of odd year elections directly off the top of tax appropriations to villages, township and cities.

Diane Gribble, county board of elections director, said the board is anticipating having to mail out about 18,000 absentee ballots at the end of September, more than double the amount in the 2008 presidential election.

The commissioners also agreed to take $37,000 out of the computer fund to pay for a maintenance agreement on electronic voting machines for next year.

Commissioners also set up a budget line item for a $238,478 federal port security grant the county 911 system received for a communications and command vehicle that can be used in the event of a disaster and as a backup 911 system.

County Commissioner David Maple, who serves as the commissioners' appointee on the 911 board, said "it definitely is an amazing vehicle."

Commissioners signed six contracts with the Jefferson County Job and Family Services, Children Services Division, to house, if needed, children out of the county in specialized facilities. Elizabeth Ferron, county Job and Family Services director, said the costs range from $105 to $360 a day to house children with special needs and emotional and behavioral problems. She said there are seven juvenile sex offenders housed out of the county.

Commissioners also agreed to provide the county fair board with $5,990 out of the capital improvement account for repairs to utility work and roof sealing on buildings at the fairgrounds. Debbie Hukill, fair board treasurer, said the cost is for materials only, and the work will be done by volunteers.

Commissioners heard from a resident in the Alikanna area with a petition signed by eight residents opposed to any action to force the area to tie into the Pottery Addition sewer project under construction.

Lori DeFallo, who lives in Alikanna, said the sewer project would have a "tremendous financial impact" on the residents.

County Commissioner Thomas Graham said there are no plans to force the residents to connect to the Pottery Addition sewer project. County Commissioner Tom Gentile said it wouldn't make sense to force the residents to pay to connect to the Pottery Addition sewers.

DeFallo said the septic systems in the area are not malfunctioning. Maple encouraged the residents to maintain their septic systems in proper working order.

Commissioners also opened two bids for the rehabilitation of a bridge on county Road 10. The engineer's estimate was $36,000. U.S. Bridge of Cambridge submitted the apparent low bid of $25,923.

County Engineer James Branagan said the county again will participate is a state purchasing program for the purchase of rock salt for next winter.

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