The starting point for budget discussions between the Summit County executive’s office and the Board of Elections was supposed to be in August. But when the board proposed an excessive $9.3 million spending plan, far over the $4.7 million the county had in mind and what similar counties plan to spend, a stalemate developed.

This week, months into a busy presidential election year, the elections board finally released a more realistic $6.4 million proposal, accompanied by the detailed explanations Russ Pry, the county executive, and his staff had long sought. During an hourlong meeting Tuesday, the two sides made progress toward the comprehensive analysis necessary to resolve the situation and bring the board’s spending under control.

So far, the board has cut 18 positions and made a significant reduction in precincts for the November presidential election. Still, major questions remain, and Pry is right to press for more information. The most important issue involves heavy spending by the board on overtime and part-time hours. In the recent primary election, with a lower turnout than two years ago, the board’s overtime and part-time hours increased by 46 percent.

Board members, for their part, are concerned about the cost of processing absentee ballot applications, which, for the first time in Summit County, will be sent to every registered voter. Pry will look at the experience in Cuyahoga County, which has mailed absentee ballot applications to all voters in the past.

This is the kind of productive discussion the elections board should have initiated months ago. Instead, it first proposed an unrealistic budget, followed by a hasty, piecemeal approach.