Summit County Council agreed Monday to hand over more money to the elections board in a move it hopes will end a lengthy financial dispute over how much cash is needed to run this year’s elections.
The council agreed to provide $6.1 million to the Board of Elections, up from the $4.7 million it originally approved.
Joe Masich, the Republican board director, and Kim Zurz, the Democratic deputy director, appeared before the Democratic-controlled council to say they can live with the $6.1 million appropriation. But they cautioned that some unforeseen problem could arise and they could be back asking for more money later this year.
“We’re going to try to run this board on exactly what you guys appropriate here … and I guarantee you that we won’t spend any money that’s not necessary,” Masich said.
The county administration and four-member Board of Elections had been bickering over the budget since last fall. The board had asked for $9.3 million, insisting that it needed more money because it’s a presidential election year.
Meanwhile, county leaders thought that was way too much considering the similar- sized counties of Lucas and Montgomery have fewer workers and spend millions less each year.
The board has since eliminated jobs, lowered some salaries and reduced the number of precincts to save money.
“We’re doing the best to watch every dime,” Masich said.
The board had threatened legal action if it didn’t get more money. Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said the administration agreed to boost the appropriation after closely examining the board’s budget.
The administration also likely would have lost any legal fight, he said.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a resolution distributing demolition money from the Ohio Moving Forward program and the new county land bank. Overall, county communities are expected to spend nearly $7 million over the next 18 months tearing down blighted properties.
The county estimates that communities will be able to demolish between 928 and 1,392 homes.
• Agreed to pay $130,470 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to settle a claim related to a failed housing project in 2003 in Twinsburg Township. The county had given money to Envision Builders Inc. and its nonprofit partner Northern Summit County Community Development Corp. to build homes for low- and moderate-income families.
The company went out of business before the homes were built and HUD wants the money back.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.