The Mahoning County Board of Elections and data processing center and the remainder of the auditor’s office are seeking budget increases from the county’s general fund in 2014.
The board of elections seeks to go from its off-year budget of slightly more than $1.8 million this year to $2.1 million for 2014, when there will be congressional, state legislative, gubernatorial and county elections.
Unlike 2013, the board will incur the expense of opening all the county’s precincts for the primary election, said Joyce Kale-Pesta, elections director.
Next year also brings added expenses for printing and mailing, and likely for technology upgrades, she said at a Monday budget hearing with commissioners.
If the elections board gives its approval, all the county’s polling places will have electronic poll books listing voters in next year’s primary and general elections, making polling places paperless and expediting voting, she said.
The electronic poll books would be leased from ES&S, an Omaha, Neb.-based company, for $80,000 to $90,000 next year, she said.
“We’ve gotten burned on technology changing and us having old equipment,” Kale-Pesta said.
Carol Rimedio-Righetti, chairwoman of the county commissioners and a former elections worker, said the technology should be leased because it rapidly becomes obsolete, and the county doesn’t want to buy and own equipment with a short lifespan.
“You have to lease it because it’s too costly. It’s out of date in two or three years,” she said.
“We need technology. ... But, of course, we’re still at a flat budget,” said Audrey Tillis, county budget director.
Because it will be reducing the number of precincts from 273 to 220 next year, the elections board must mail two notices to voters telling them of the changes of general-election voting locations stemming from precinct mergers, Kale-Pesta added.
To meet the need for technology upgrades, the data processing department, which is a part of the auditor’s office, is seeking a budget increase from $1.1 million this year to $1.2 million next year.
For the remainder of his office, county Auditor Michael V. Sciortino is seeking a slight increase from $1,000,371 to $1,015,135 from the general fund.
The commissioners must pare down nearly $60.5 million in departmental budget requests to about $50.2 million in general-fund revenue next year.
The $50.2 million in general-fund revenue estimated by the county budget commission for 2014 is close to the commissioners’ appropriation for this year, which rounds off to $50.3 million.