Originally created 12/16/06

Official proposes vote shift



You might be seeing a lot more of several Augusta commissioners.

When Elections Director Lynn Bailey was asked Friday for money-saving ideas, she told Augusta's legislative delegation it might consider extending by one year the current four-year terms of commissioners so the next elections could be held in 2008, not 2007 as planned.

The move would allow voting to take place the same years as congressional and presidential elections and save local taxpayers' money, Mrs. Bailey told lawmakers at a morning meeting at Augusta Technical College.

Such a move would add 12 months to the four-year terms of commissioners, including two - Andy Cheek and Marion Williams - who were to end their second terms next year and who are prohibited from seeking a third.

"This information I gave them today was just food for thought," said Mrs. Bailey, who was asked to present some cost-cutting ideas.

The executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, Mrs. Bailey said the county could save an average of $137,000 each election cycle if it moved the election of Augusta commissioners from odd- to even-numbered years. City commissioners in Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 are up for election in 2007. City commissioners in Districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 are up for election in 2009. They may only serve two consecutive terms.

"It would not cost one cent to put offices on an even-numbered election ballot," said Mrs. Bailey, who also made it clear she was not advocating the change.

Mrs. Bailey also proposed that Board of Elections officials be allowed to open absentee ballots at 7 a.m. instead of 7 p.m. to speed up election results and to alter a rule concerning voters who misplace their absentee ballots.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

IN OTHER BUSINESS


Bill Kuhlke, state Georgia Department of Transportation board member representing the 9th Congressional District, told lawmakers they would most likely have to deal with a statewide tax increase or some kind of regional special purpose local option sales tax to combat a $7.7 billion shortfall in state road funding. He painted a dreary picture as local bridges begin to deteriorate and the state has less money to repair them.


Still, Mr. Kuhlke pointed out Richmond County received $142 million from a recent state roads allocation.