JEFFERSON — Members of the Ashtabula County Board of Elections on Wednesday took issue with a county commissioner’s recent criticism of the board’s budget.
Last week, Commissioner Daniel Claypool described the “unreasonableness” of the election board’s budget request in a non-presidential election year. Ultimately, the original request was shaved $12,000 to $795,637, which is $200,000 more compared to the previous year. At the meeting, Claypool said he if could, the election board appropriation would have been singled out for a separate vote.
Claypool’s tone apparently irked some election board personnel. “I think his statements were wrong,” said Carol Lovas, director.
Board member Myra Brown was more feisty. “(Claypool) couldn’t do a month’s work in this office,” she said.
A variety of factors prompted the bigger budget request, members agreed at Wednesday’s meeting. Mandates regarding elections prompted additional work and expenditures, they said.
“There were changes that upped our budget,” Lovas said.
Board members agreed.
“If we didn’t have elections, we could figure our budget down to the penny,” said board member Charlie Frye. “There are things you have to be flexible with.”
“So many of our expenses are unknown,” said Luanne Laakso. “But (the commissioners) have a job to do. We have to be fair.”
Over the past few years, the board has been able to return money to the county, partly because of grants received and unexpected payment for training expenses, members noted. The $12,000 reduction this year resulted from dialog between the office and Commissioner Peggy Carlo, who last week vouched for the agreement.
Duane Feher, election board deputy director and a former commissioner, tried to soothe ruffled feelings. Commissioners last year gave the election office $52,000 more than the preceding year, he said.
“Things get frustrating at times,” Feher said.
Joseph Varckette, election board chairman, said he felt the group has done a “good job communicating the needs of the department.”