A Vigo County Council committee Friday unanimously recommended a reduced additional appropriation to cover election expenses for a referendum in the fall election.

Last month Vigo County Clerk Brad Newman had sought nearly $63,000, of which $51,000 was for payroll for more people and overtime. He cited a new state law that clarified that the county cannot tabulate absentee ballots at early vote centers until election day.

Since then, the clerk's office has conducted a "mock election" to determine how many teams would be needed to ready and scan ballots.

On Friday, Newman submitted a revised funding request, lowered to $13,200. It removes the payroll expense. The biggest expense now is $6,500 for RBM for election services and machines. Other costs are advertising, equipment rental, printing and mileage expenses.

"So this is current (expense estimate) for both referendums?" asked Councilwoman Lisa Spence-Bunnett.

"There is only one referendum; there has not been contact yet on a second referendum," Newman said. "This is for a casino. The school will be in addition to this."

However, a second referendum, the clerk added, is not expected to increase costs. 

"The only place that (might) increase in this would be (for) election services, but I don't think (it would) cost us anything to code one more question. It should not take 20 minutes to get the coding" for election machines, Newman said.

The clerk's office sent out an email notification to county employees to participate in another mock election on July 17 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the main floor of the county courthouse in a back office, off the south hall.

"It will be a learning curve. We will time people," Newman said. "We will do a couple of (mock elections) to tweak it and develop a schematic for every vote center so (voting) flows the same way. We are going to tweak it to make sure this flows right so voters don't have to spend an hour voting."

The County Council budgeted $217,000 for elections this year and spent about $120,000 in May, leaving its election budget with about $97,000. 

The committee's recommendation for the additional appropriation next goes before the full County Council at its August 13 meeting.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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