MOUNT VERNON — Representatives of the Knox County Board of Elections met with the Knox County Commissioners on Monday morning regarding the 2010 budget. The BOE is one of several departments which receives funding from the county’s general fund. Unlike most, however, the BOE has the legally mandated leeway to demand funds for its operations.
Director Kim Horn and board members Carol Sue Owens and Jim Zak started the process with a proposed 2010 budget that, while cutting back, does not reach the commissioners’ requested 20 percent cut. Instead, they proposed an 11 percent reduction, which Horn said would be the lowest budget the BOE has had since 2006.
“We are submitting an odd-year budget going into an even year,” Horn said, explaining that 2010 will be a big election year due to some important races, including the Ohio gubernatorial election and the choice of U.S. senator to replace retiring Sen. George Voinovich.
Horn said she was looking into regulations that outline the structure of voting precincts to see if any precincts can be combined in order to save some money on the number of poll workers required on Election Day. She said the Ohio Revised Code requires four poll workers per precinct, but in some areas, such as Apple Valley, there may be enough voters concentrated in a small area that the number of precincts can be restructured.
Meanwhile, Horn said, the BOE has been cutting back by using fewer “techs” and less seasonal help, as well as by accumulating less comp time. The board has implemented a policy on using those hours in a timely manner. Additionally, some unused voting equipment was sold to Franklin County, and training pay was reduced.
Each staff member has stepped up, Horn said, and assumed more responsibilities in order to keep extra help during this election to just two part-time employees. She added that the BOE will be continuing all of these practices in 2010, along with doing its own ballot layout, which she said will save more money.
The commissioners thanked the BOE representatives for the positive start to the 2010 budgeting process. Further number crunching will come before the end of the year to determine the county’s general fund situation. Commissioner Allen Stockberger remarked that although some signs are showing the economy turning up, it has yet to hit the interest rates that generate income for the general fund. He said the county’s latest certificate of deposit will be returning an even lower rate of interest than the previous one, due to sagging money markets.