Costs add up as counties plan for recall elections
With a state Senate recall election, a recall primary and a Supreme Court recount, local election clerks are seeing their 2011 budgets fall apart.
While it's difficult to plan for these unprecedented elections, St. Croix and Pierce county clerks figure the unbudgeted expenses will total about $25,000 for each county. Those projections don't include the amounts each city, village and town will pay for poll workers and their own miscellaneous expenses.
When she prepared her 2011 budget last fall, St. Croix County Clerk Cindy Campbell figured with spring and fall elections her office would spend $57,000. She expects the recall election, the recall primary and the Supreme Court recount will add $25,000.
Pierce County Clerk Jamie Feuerhelm budgeted $55,690 for 2011 elections. He now expects the unanticipated elections and recount will add $24,000 to $32,000 to those costs.
Campbell estimates St. Croix's expenses will be $12,000 each for the recall primary and the recall election. That includes the cost of coding the election information, printing ballots, publishing election notices, paying the board of canvassers and staff overtime costs.
Campbell anticipates the turnout will be fairly high and is planning accordingly.
His largest costs are for ballots and programming voting machines, said Feuerhelm. Because he hasn't gotten the bill for that, he made a rough estimate that each election will cost the county $11,000 to $15,000.
The recount cost her county $3,000, said Campbell. The recount in Pierce County cost $2,000. Both counties were able to meet the recount deadline without working through the weekend as some counties did.
The cities, villages and towns pay their own poll workers and pay to print absentee voter notices and testing of electronic equipment notices.
Pierce County has 16 reporting units in the 10th Senate District. Each unit will have a minimum of three workers on hand at all times and some will have five, said Feuerhelm. Some pay by the hour and some by the day. The poll workers will probably work 14 hours that day for a minimum of 42 worker hours per reporting unit.
St. Croix County has 41 reporting units, and again each is staffed with a minimum of three poll workers.
Both Campbell and Feuerhelm expect that most of the money to cover their unbudgeted expenses will come either from the counties' contingency or general funds. Those transfers will be made at the end of the year after the clerks have determined if they can offset some of the costs by under-spending in other areas.
Campbell said she has met with the County Board's Administration Committee, advising it of the costs.
"They're very much aware that the elections budget will be over budget, and they understand," she said.