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Elections board looks at cutting precincts, staff

Published: Wed, June 2, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.




The Mahoning County budget crunch likely will result in the board of elections’ cutting at least 40 voting precincts — perhaps as many as 100 — as well as laying off or eliminating at least two clerk positions and possibly as many as four.

Elections-board officials will meet Thursday with the county commissioners to discuss budget cuts.

The board, which employs 14, is on pace to be $185,000 over its $1.32 million budget this year, said Director Thomas McCabe.

In January, the board made six of its 11 clerks nine-month employees, cutting those annual base-pay salaries by 25 percent — from $35,600 to $26,700.

The board also reduced the starting pay for full-time clerks to $21,800 and reduced the number of part-time workers it uses during busy election periods.

Combined with other cuts, the board reduced its costs by about $200,000 annually.

But it’s not enough.

The board of elections on Tuesday discussed the elimination of two clerk positions and possibly as many as four.

Also, the board plans to eliminate at least 40 of its 287 voting precincts in time for the November general election.

Each precinct costs about $700 to operate per election, McCabe said.

The board might be able to eliminate 100 precincts, said Deputy Director Joyce Kale-Pesta.

“We know there will be cuts,” McCabe said. “We want to talk to the commissioners to see what we can do. We understand we have to make cuts.”

The board also is considering not training poll workers, something not required by state law, McCabe said.

Only presiding judges for each precinct must undergo training, he said. Those who receive training are paid $20 to do so, McCabe said. There are three poll workers and a presiding judge at each precinct.

“Not training poll workers impacts elections,” McCabe said. “But desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.”

The county’s general-fund revenues for this year are projected to be $51.3 million compared with $57.6 million last year and $66.3 million in 2008, largely because of reductions in sales-tax revenue and money the county receives from the state.

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