Madison County moved closer Nov. 5 to the establishment of a county election board.
The commissioners agreed to hold public hearings in late November and early December to get input on their plans to establish a three-person board to oversee county elections.
That responsibility now falls on the county probate judge, who is an elected official. That means the probate judge must oversee his or her own election when facing opposition.
Probate Judge Cody Cross said his office has been “election minded” for the past year and that probate work has been affected by the extra election duty. He has asked that the BOC strip him of the responsibility, along with the pay that goes with it. The state sets that pay at a minimum of $323 a month.
“That’s a car payment,” said Cross. “But that’s how much I believe in establishing this board and believe that it’s right for the county.”
The BOC plans to have a three-person board, with the county chief registrar — now Tracy Dean — serving as the chairman. The other two board members will be nominated by the Republican and Democratic parties in the county, with the BOC giving official approval.
Ruth Ann Tesanovich of the Madison County Democratic Party took the podium Nov. 5 and told the BOC that the local Democrats support having the parties pick a board member.
The election board members will be paid $50 per meeting. The BOC has not determined how many times the board will meet per year. But it will likely vary between election and non-election years. County attorney Mike Pruett said the Madison County proposal is based on the Oconee County board of elections resolution passed in 1994, which called for six meetings annually.
County commissioners agreed that six meetings probably won’t be necessary in non-election years.
The BOC did not determine exactly how much Dean would be paid for her increased election duties. At least a portion of the money taken from Cross — close to $4,000 annually — will likely foot that expense. Some of that money may be used to cover pay for the other two election board members.
Dean also asked the BOC to consider funding an extra position in her office to help with election duties. Commissioner Stanley Thomas asked Dean to bring back information on how much that would cost.
In other matters Monday, the county commissioners officially approved the 2013 county budget by a 4-1 vote, with commissioner John Pethel providing the lone “No.” Pethel has said that he opposes using a projected $640,000 in cash reserves to cover a revenue shortfall in the $13.6 million county budget. Revenues will be down significantly next year due to a 13-percent decrease in the county’s overall property value, which will lead to less property tax revenue for the government.
In unrelated matter, chairman Anthony Dove reported that sales tax revenues were down in October compared to October of 2011. That is the first monthly decline this year. He said revenues are still up for 2012 compared to 2011.
The board approved a beer and wine license continuance for the new owner of the former Adams Clover Farm convenience store on Wildcat Bridge Road.
The board approved a routine zoning request and agreed to allow people to apply for a conditional use permit to run auction barns in agricultural areas, where antiques and other items can be sold.