Norwich could see rise in election costs

Norwich - The cost of running elections in the city could go up next fiscal year under a proposal by the registrars of voters to create a new voting precinct, raise salaries for the first time in 10 years and cover voting machine maintenance costs being dropped by the state.

Republican Registrar Diane Slopak said since the advent of the state's new electronic voting machines, the state has owned all the machines and has been responsible for maintenance. State election officials recently informed city registrars that the state no longer will pay for annual machine maintenance - a cost of $200 per machine for the city's 22 voting machines.

The registrars' office will submit a budget totaling $132,500, a $15,100 increase over this year's, Slopak said.

The request also includes funding for half of a proposed $2,000 per year salary increase for each of the part-time elected registrars that would take effect in January. The salary of $24,000 has not been raised since 2005, Slopak said.

If approved by the City Council, the raise would take effect at the halfway mark in the fiscal year, January 2015 for registrars elected in this fall's November election.

On Tuesday, Slopak and Democratic Registrar Dianne Daniels will present a plan to the City Council to split voting Precinct 5 into two precincts. The precinct is the largest in the city, but turnout has been low at the polling place, the Bishop School. Parking and traffic congestion have been chronic problems at the school on election days.

The new plan would move half of Precinct 5 to a polling place at St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 248 Broadway, and would place the remaining voters into a Precinct 6 at the AHEPA 110, Inc. elderly apartment complex at 380 Hamilton Ave.

Both sites are handicapped accessible with large parking lots.

While the AHEPA location would be free to the city, St. Mark's would charge $800 for a three-day span at each election - one day to set up voting machines, election day and the following day to break down equipment. Registrars anticipate needing as many as three election days this year for party primaries and the general election.

The proposal to establish the new polling places for the new Precinct 5 and 6 will be open for public comment at the start of Tuesday's City Council meeting. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Norwich City Hall.


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