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Elections budget approved

8/16/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council adopted the Board of Elections’ (BOE) budget for the upcoming presidential election Aug. 13.

At the time of the meeting, the BOE and county officials were waiting on tie-breaking decisions on several items before the start of early voting Oct. 2.

Council adopted the BOE’s nearly $6.2 million budget for 2012 after hearing from BOE Director Joe Masich and Deputy Director Kim Zurz.

The amount is more than the $4.7 million originally offered by the Executive’s Office but less than the $9.3 million the BOE initially requested for this year, which BOE officials said will require a high level of funding due to the presidential election.

“The administration believes the election can be carried out with this amount,” said Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry.

Zurz said the BOE will do its best with the budget but noted there is a chance the board would need more funding in case of a problem.

Masich said he and Zurz are relatively new to the job but are trying to run the office as frugally as possible.

“We’re doing our best to watch every dime,” he said. “If I can wrap up half a million dollars and give it back at the end of the year, I will. I’m going to try to run the board on exactly what you approved tonight.”

While the budget is set, there are still some unknowns about the upcoming General Election. Masich said the Ohio Secretary of State’s (SOS) Office has been asked to weigh in on several tie votes, including one on whether the county should have an off-site voting location to accommodate early voters.

Dodson said the administration offered the BOE $50,000 to use for an off-site location, but the board deadlocked on the issue of using a site other than the BOE office.

On Aug. 15, Secretary of State Jon Husted decided the BOE will not offer off-site early voting and instead will offer voting at the BOE’s Grant Street office.

As for cost-cutting measures, Masich noted the BOE has reduced the number of precincts from 475 to 298. He and Zurz also are evaluating polling locations and plan to finalize changes soon. He added that all registered voters would receive postcards notifying them of their polling location and precinct.

In other business, Council adopted a resolution to allow the county’s Department of Development to oversee the Summit County Land Reutilization Corp. land bank. The action allows the county to oversee the program with the use of existing staff.

The county will receive $3.8 million from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to demolish abandoned structures countywide as part of the program. That amount has been matched by communities taking part.

According to information provided during last week’s committee meetings, Akron will get nearly $4 million, which will allow the city to address between 529 and 794 vacant properties. Springfield will receive $381,000 to address 51 to 76 properties. In other local communities, Lakemore will receive $147,201 to address 20 to 29 properties; Green will receive $82,843 to address 11 to 17 properties; Coventry will receive $72,519 to deal with 10 to 15 properties; Norton will receive $55,335 to address seven to 11 properties; and New Franklin will receive $37,730 to address five to eight properties.

Council also adopted on first reading a resolution that will remove the 30-ton limit posted on the Van Buren Road bridge over the Tuscarawas River in New Franklin due to improvements to the bridge.

Heidi Swindell, of the Summit County Engineer’s Office, said paving is being done on the new bridge and it will reopen to traffic in November.

Also Monday, Council adopted a resolution accepting the recommendations of the Tax Incentives Review Council regarding enterprise zone agreements in the county.

Among the agreements was one with J&K Subway/Prout, in Green, which expires in 2014 and was recommended to continue; and Diebold, which expired at the end of 2011 and resulted in all commitments being met.

Council will meet Aug. 20 at 4:30 p.m. for committee meetings in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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