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Auditor Reviews Election Costs

December 28, 2012
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

A question on what it costs to hold an election resulted in the Palo Alto County Supervisors receiving an update on the subject during their Dec. 18 board meeting. Palo Alto County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Carmen Moser presented the supervisors with a breakdown on the costs for the 2012 General Election.

"This was the first year we have ever conducted satellite voting in the county," Moser noted. "I feel it was a great success and we will continue to do it in the future."

The satellite voting featured polling stations in Mallard, Ayrshire Ruthven and Graettinger attracted 418 voters prior to the actual general election day. At each town, a ballot reader was set up, and election workers signed voters in, at a cost of $1,222.50 for the poll workers' salaries for the day.

"This year, out supplies, like pens and miscellaneous items, cost $906.20," Moser explained. "To program the readers and print the ballot forms cost $5,015.49. Publishing the ballots in the papers and the legal notices cost $2,813.16 and mileage to take the machines to the polling places, set them up, test them and bring them back to the courthouse was $192.15."

The final expense, the salaries for the election workers on Election Day, totaled $6,265.75, for a total of $15,192.75, according to Moser.

"Add the satellite voting costs to that figure, and the entire General Election cost $16,415.25," Moser said. "Compared with what was spent during the 2010 general election, $19,273.13, we saved $2,857.88."

According to the Auditor, the savings came from a reduction in the number of voting precincts and the resultant decrease in election workers. However, Moser cautioned the board that in future elections, there would still be increases, due in large part to promised increases in postage."

According to Moser, the estimated cost of an election had ranged from $9,000 to $12,000 over the years, but the 2012 election gave the Auditor's office a good, solid figure to base projections on in the future.

"All in all, we're very happy with our voting equipment," Moser told the supervisors. "The next thing we are looking at is going to the Precinct Atlas system, where all of the eligible voters in a precinct are loaded on a laptop computer where they can be looked up by the poll workers."

In other items of business at the Dec. 18 board meeting, the supervisors were informed of the hiring of a new deputy for County Treasurer Mary Hilfiker. With the retirement of Ruth Ann Heywood from the Treasurer's Office after 29 years of service, Hilfiker informed the board she has hired Kay Frerk to fill the vacancy in the Treasurers office, beginning on Jan. 2.

"Kay comes to us from the Laurens State Bank and has a wealth of experience in customer service and the financial industry," Hilfiker said. "She will be placed on a three-year step for salary, starting at $35,000. I think she will be an excellent employee for our department."

The Supervisors approved Family Farm exemption certificates for County Assessor Lois Naig, who noted out of all of the applications for the exemption received by her office, only one parcel had to be denied for not meeting the statutory requirements. The board also granted approval to an application for a liquor license, outdoor sales permit and Sunday sales permit for the West Bend Country Club.

County Engineer Joel Fantz presented the board with a resolution to raise the weight limit posting on a bridge in Independence Township to 23 tons from its current posted restriction of 13 tons after workers from Secondary Roads had performed treatment and piling restoration on the structure. The resolution was introduced and approved on a unanimous vote.

Fantz also took the opportunity to present outgoing Supervisor Leo Goeders with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of the Secondary Road Department for his efforts as a County Supervisor during his 18 years on the board.

The board held a joint telephone conference with the supervisors from Kossuth and Emmet Counties for a completion hearing on work done in Tri-Joint Drainage District 84. The majority of the work took place in Kossuth County during 2012, and project engineer McClure Engineering of Fort Dodge recommended final payment in the amount of $136,927.43 to the contractor, Reutzel Excavating of Burt. The payment was approved on a unanimous vote of the three boards of supervisors to close the meeting.



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