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Palm Coast Monday, Jun. 18, 2018 5 months ago

County faces budget increases for Supervisor of Elections Office, clerk of court, fire rescue

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Raises and technology upgrades would require more money from the county's general fund.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Some of Flagler County’s constitutional officers and department heads are asking for significant budget increases this coming year: The supervisor of elections has requested a 15% increase; the clerk of court has requested an 11% increase; and fire rescue has requested a 17% increase.

Commissioners listened to those requests from Elections Supervisor Kaiti Lenhart, Clerk of Court Tom Bexley, Flagler County Fire Rescue Chief Don Petito and other officials during a June 18 budget workshop.

Since the Department of Homeland Security has declared elections systems “critical infrastructure,” Lenhart said, her office has been working with DHS to secure Flagler’s. One problem: The computers in the office are about 10 years old, and “ a bit of a liability,” she said.

Lenhart hopes to replace them, implement a required modem upgrade to 4g for the tabulators, and add a redundant backup server. That, though, wouldn’t happen before November.

The requested $103,710 increase for the elections office — for a total budget of $1,080,176 — would also include pay for poll workers and three additional part-time staff members. Some equipment expenses may be eligible for federal grant reimbursement.

Of the expenses, County Commissioner David Sullivan said, “I do think there’s a point where we have to push back little. … It’s going to probably have to be tightened up some before we’re at the end of this process.”

Clerk of Court Tom Bexley is requesting a $170,000 funding increase from the county for a total budget of $2,564,827.

Of the additional $170,000, Bexley said, $70,000 would be used for cost of living increases for staff, $50,000 for data capacity upgrades, and $50,000 for merit raises.

The county’s Fire Rescue department also needs new equipment and money to pay raises to staff, according to Petito. In Flagler, fire rescue staff start at around $44,000 per year and pretty much stay there, he said, making it hard to retain them when other locations have more of a pay progression. He’s requesting an additional $1,296,115 in funding from the county, for a total 2018-2019 budget of $11,727,673.

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