Historic election year

Published 10:51 pm Monday, May 24, 2021

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Polk approves $20,474 for additional election salaries

COLUMBUS—Following a historic election year in 2020, the Polk County Board of Commissioners approved a budget amendment this week to cover additional salaries and benefits for the election office. 

Commissioners met Monday and heard from board of election director Cliff Marr about the need for additional money. 

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Commissioners approved taking $20,474 out of fund balance to cover the extra costs this fiscal year. 

Marr explained the historic year, saying his office has 1 full time employee and 2 part-time employees who work alternating weeks throughout the year. 

“When election time rolls around, however, all hands are on deck,” Marr said. 

The 3 employees during election time, work full time hours, he said and the office can typically pay for those salaries. 

This year the laws changed after the budget was approved and Marr discussed the significant increase in absentee ballots in 2020, as well as the timing of when those ballots began to come in. 

He said normally, absentee ballots would begin 6-7 weeks before an election, but last year those ballots began coming in 20 weeks prior to the election. So, employees had to work full-time another 13 weeks than normal just to address the volume of absentee ballots. 

Marr also said his office received extra funding this fiscal year because of COVID-19. He said his office received $18,500 from the CARES ACT at the state level, $9,544 in incentive pay for poll workers to give them incentive to work during a time they would be reluctant to work and another $6,500 for COVID supplies. 

Commissioners unanimously approved the budget amendment to pay for the employee salaries for the rest of the fiscal year.