WILMINGTON — The first county government office to huddle with commissioners regarding the department’s 2018 proposed budget came in with approximately a 7 percent reduction from their current budget.
The Clinton County Board of Elections (BOE) met Monday with county commissioners as the face-to-face 2018 budget talks were launched. In September, Clinton County offices were asked to cut non-personnel spending by 10 percent for next year, and to keep the expense of wages the same as this year.
Clinton County BOE Deputy Director Jay Peterson said that where the elections office has indicated it plans to cut particular line items, staffers there think they can “make do” with the lower figures.
In total, the Board of Elections’ preliminary expenditures for next year are $511,392. That compares to this year’s BOE budget of $548,543.
As part of the BOE presentation Monday, there was a handout submitted by BOE Director Shane C. Breckel that went into why the contractual agreements line item (which is a non-personnel line) went up $3,200 while another line item went from $3,200 to zero.
Breckel stated that this year, the Clinton County Auditor’s Office determined that poll workers and election help are not county employees and that accordingly they could not be paid mileage reimbursement. The election helpers were rehired through Staffmark, a staffing company.
The handout states, “The Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office and the BOE’s opinion is that under ORC 3501.01 (U)(8) they are elections officials (like board members and full-time staff) and should be compensated likewise. The Auditor’s Office refused to change their decision.”
The handout also states the hourly cost of some of the election helpers went up 20 percent because of the additional Social Security tax and Staffmark fees, which the BOE absorbed by making cuts to other lines.
Later on Monday, Clinton County Auditor Terence G. “Terry” Habermehl said his office doesn’t do anything until staff there see it in writing and there is nothing in writing from the prosecutor’s office — legal counsel for the county — on the question.
In addition, the county auditor said his office was going by ORC 145 (A)(5). That ORC section states that a “public employee” does not include any person “who is employed as an election worker and paid less than six hundred dollars per calendar year for that service.”
The section of the ORC (Ohio Revised Code) cited in Breckel’s handout states an “election officer or election official means,” among other listed things, “employees appointed by the boards of elections on a temporary or part-time basis.”
Peterson said there was verbal advice by the county prosecutor’s office on the matter, but “not a written full-blown opinion.” That’s because the BOE opted for a route that enabled it to pay the affected election helpers in a more timely manner, said Peterson, adding the research and a written opinion would take weeks.
Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods said she wanted Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McCoy, who specializes in providing legal counsel to county government, to get the question “ironed out before ’18.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.