July 30, 2009 - Changing election years would cost, not save, Inland Empire school districts money
Paper: Contra Costa Times
Title: Changing election years would cost, not save, Inland Empire school districts money
Date: July 30, 2009
Author: Stephen Wall Staff Writer
A growing number of area school districts have looked at moving their elections from even-numbered years to odd-numbered years to defer costs in tough budgetary times.
But postponing elections from 2010 to 2011 would actually cost districts three times as much money, according to an analysis by the county Registrar of Voters.
For the San Bernardino County Board of Education, which will consider the switch on Monday, it would be five times higher.
The estimated cost of the county school board election in November 2010 is $375,000. The same election would cost nearly $2 million in November 2011.
That doesn't include an additional $155,000 to mail change of election notices to more than 490,000 registered voters, according to the registrar.
County school board member Gil Navarro, who recommended the change, said he is "shocked" by the cost and now will "emphatically vote no."
"Why is it so expensive?" Navarro said. "I think it's time we re-evaluate the voting process in regards to the cost factor."
Registrar Kari Verjil said elections cost more in odd years because there are fewer jurisdictions to share the cost for ballots, poll workers, voting booths and other expenses.
This year, only two school districts - Chaffey Community College District and Baker Valley Unified School District - have elections.
The other 44 school districts in the county have even-year elections.
"When it's shared among many, the cost goes down. When it's shared among few, the cost goes up," Verjil said.
In the Rialto Unified School District, which is also considering the switch, the cost would rise from $54,000 in 2010 to $164,000 in 2011, plus another $9,300 to mail change of election notices.
The Colton school board has already approved a resolution moving the election from even to odd years. The cost would increase from $51,000 in 2010 to $155,000 in 2011, plus $8,800 to mail election change notices.
The county Board of Supervisors still has to ratify Colton's request.
Colton board member Robert Armenta Jr., who voted against moving the election, said he will ask his colleagues to switch the election back to 2010. Armenta said he will ask the matter to be placed on the Aug. 20 meeting agenda.
The San Bernardino City Unified School District has officially changed its election cycle from even to odd years starting in 2011. It will spend an estimated $350,000 for the 2011 election, compared to the $107,000 it would have paid for a 2010 election.
Fifteen special districts are conducting elections by mail in August, which Verjil says reduces costs tremendously because the registrar's office doesn't have to pay poll workers and set up polling places.
But the state election code doesn't allow school districts to have vote-by-mail elections, she said.
Navarro said he will propose a resolution at Monday's meeting asking Sacramento lawmakers to change state law to allow local school districts and agencies to conduct elections by mail to save money.
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