What#8217;s going on in the BOE?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

At a time when the Lawrence County Commission is trying to trim expenses in every office, the Lawrence County Board of Elections has said it may need as much as $262,000 to balance its books by the end of the year.

BOE officials maintain they do not waste money, haven’t bought any new items and that the increased cost is tied to the elections.

But just because the office doesn’t have new furniture or equipment doesn’t mean it has been managed well.

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One thing is for certain. Either the commission failed miserably to budget the office properly or the board of elections failed miserably to stay within its budget. And it appears that the problem may be tied to both, coupled with a

flawed purchasing system that means many 2007 bills were paid for out of the 2008 budget.

It is understood that 2008 is a presidential year and the demands on the board of elections are high. But that does not mean the office gets an automatic pass to spend whatever it wants.

The BOE was given roughly the same amount of money it spent in 2007, approximately $430,000. While some overruns can be blamed on the purchasing system and the increased cost of having a presidential primary and a general election, it is ridiculous to think that this overage would be so high.

The reality is that every office in Lawrence County is expected to go to great lengths to do their part to help the county balance the books.

“It has been no secret we enacted a 15 percent pay cut and every office holder except the board of elections, that I can tell, has made some adjustment,” Commissioner Jason Stephens said.

It is not a valid argument for the board of elections to simply say it has to put on an election. All offices have to continue to perform the basic functions of their offices with less, and the same should be expected of the board of elections.

There should be accountability as to why this quarter-million dollar overrun occurred. And it should happen before, or if, these funds are granted. But under any circumstances, there should be an acknowledgement that this office owes the taxpayers some answers.