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Published: Tuesday, 5/11/2004

Elections appropriation averts suit

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TIFFIN - The Seneca County commissioners avoided a legal fight over the board of elections' budget yesterday, approving a request to appropriate an additional $25,103 toward expenses for balloting this summer and fall.

Commissioners Tom Distel, Joseph Schock, and Jimmie Young agreed to the extra funding after meeting with the board. Elections officials had discussed suing the commissioners if the money wasn't approved, repeating a legal battle that occurred two years ago.

In that instance, a visiting judge ordered the commissioners to increase the elections budget by $28,000.

Both sides said they were happy to avoid ending up in court again.

"I'm really pleased," said Wayne Hoover, chairman of the board of elections. "It's money that we need to put all these elections together. I'm pleased they saw it our way. And I'll say that reflects positively on the county commissioners."

Mr. Young, president of the commissioners, said he was persuaded to support spending the additional funds after Mr. Schock studied the elections budget and gathered details about how the money would be spent. The funds approved yesterday will go toward supplies, equipment maintenance, advertising of ballot issues, and salaries and expenses for precinct officials, poll workers, and other employees.

"After the review he presented, it seemed to be warranted, and we approved it," Mr. Young said.

Asked what impact the threat of legal action had on the commissioners' decision, Mr. Young replied, "None to me."

"None to me either," Mr. Schock added.

The board of elections initially requested $255,464 from the commissioners in January but received $214,531, a difference of nearly $41,000. Since then, the board reduced its line-item for workers compensation by about $1,800.

In addition, the commissioners added $5,608 to cover an additional pay period this year for elections workers and agreed to let the board carry over $4,303.53 from last year's budget to pay for supplies used in the March 2 primary.

That narrowed the gap between the two sides to the amount the commissioners appropriated yesterday.

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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