Board seeks money for new voting system

March 26, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Election results will come in much quicker next year when Carroll County begins using a new voting system, election officials said yesterday.

"That takes all the excitement out of going to Frock's," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell. The Westminster restaurant is where Republicans traditionally gather to wait for election results.

The new system, which will use optical scanning technology, means results will be available almost immediately after the polls close, Election Board Chairman Leo Kuhn said.

"It's quick and efficient," he said.

The system will cost about $95,000 per year for a six-year, full-service lease, election officials told the commissioners during budget review session.

The Election Board needs a new system because changes in the county's mainframe computer mean it no longer will be able to handle election tabulations.

The board will seek bids from companies to provide the equipment soon, Mr. Kuhn said. The board will need time to teach staff and voters how to use the system before the next elections, he said.

The Election Board budget for fiscal 1994, which begins July 1, is $31,560 higher than the current year's budget of $206,510. The $95,000 increase for the new system is partially offset by decreases in costs because 1993 is not an election year, county budget analyst Gary Horst said.

The county will save $48,800 in personnel costs and $12,515 in printing costs in the coming year because there is no election, he said.

Mr. Kuhn asked the commissioners to increase the annual salary for the three Election Board members from $2,500 to $3,000. Their salary has not increased in about 10 years, he said.

The current board would not receive the raise, he added.

The commissioners also reviewed the Circuit Court's budget yesterday.

The court has requested a fiscal 1994 budget that is $25,770 higher than the current $729,160.

The increase is needed mainly because salaries increased $20,915 -- $10,915 because the state increased Circuit Court employees' hours from 32 1/2 per week to 35 per week in January, and $10,000 for bailiffs to work at the court's metal detectors and to help with an increasing number of trials.

"I think it's an austere budget," Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. told the commissioners.

"I appreciate your efforts in working with the conditions we have to deal with," Mr. Dell said, referring to the budget crisis.

The commissioners are expected to have to cut $3.4 million from budget requests agencies have submitted for fiscal 1994.

County agencies have requested $128,158,080, but revenue is expected to be only $124,779,695.

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