Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Clerk: Thousands in election expenses were not paid last year

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By LILY REX

Porter County Clerk Jessica Bailey reports she’s discovered over $72,000 in outstanding expenses from the 2018 election since she took office in January.

The Porter County Council approved Bailey’s request to make $20,000 in transfers to cover some of those expenses at its meeting last week.

Bailey was approved to transfer $5,000 from her office supply funds to legal notices and to transfer $15,000 from her food and groceries line item to cover the outstanding expenses for legal notices and contractual services in the 2018 election and to have a balance remaining in those funds for 2019 primary expenses.

Council Vice-president Jeremy Rivas asked if any funds were encumbered from the 2018 budget to pay for election expenses that cropped up in 2019. Bailey said nothing was encumbered, but many of the invoices came in 2018 and were just never paid, presumably because former Clerk Karen Martin didn’t sign-off on the invoices so they could be sent to the Auditor’s office.

The Council asked County Auditor Vicki Urbanik why nothing was encumbered. Urbanik said requesting encumbrances is on department heads. “We have no idea what outstanding bills any individual departments have.”

The 2018 general election in Porter County was rife with problems, including 13 polling places not opening on time, poll worker complaints, and results delayed until Nov. 9. A report from Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson named Martin, who was on the ballot challenging Urbanik for Auditor while she administered the election, as one of three key figures in the failures.

Council member Ray Poparad, D-1st, questioned why Bailey didn’t bring the issue to the Council’s attention sooner than April. Bailey said she was prepared to discuss it in March, when the Council cancelled its regular meeting.

Council President Dan Whitten, D-At-large, asked if all the outstanding expenses are known.

Bailey said she believes she’s found all of them, but she’ll most likely need more fund transfers and an additional appropriation to make up for the 2018 expenses she has paid from her 2019 budget. She plans to request the additional appropriation later in the year, once she’s done all the fund transfers.

“Let’s cut to the chase, we know the prior administration in the Clerk’s office was less than organized. Moving forward, it sounds like you’ve got things in place,” Whitten said.

“We know you are going to be timely. She’s fixing the problem,” Whitten said.

In other elections business, the Council gave the final nod of approval for poll worker raises approved by the Board of Commissioners earlier this year.

Bailey reported there have been no problems with the new voting equipment--including the electronic poll books that had some council members nervous when they approved the purchase. She reported that Duneland and Portage have had the heaviest early voting turnout.

 

Posted 5/2/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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