Supervisor of Elections, Shirley Anderson, explained her fiscal year 2015-2016 budget at the September 3rd budget hearing and warned Commissioners that not properly funding the office could have negative consequences beyond the county and the state. After not much comment by the Commission, the Board decided to provide her with the $1,247,539 she requested for her office at the final hearing on September 22nd.
At the final budget hearing on September 22nd, Ms. Anderson faced the Board again, stating, “Unlike Publix, elections are not buy one get one free. There are no BOGOs here. So I need this additional money this year to adequately fund my office.” She continued, “As you know you froze all the constitutional offices’ budget, and so all the salaries for my staff will be frozen. However at the same time all the other county employees will be getting their raise. Not only the 1.8% COLA, but 3% steps also. I think this policy is somehow flawed. I’m not opposed to anyone getting a raise, any of the county employees, however when you cannot adequately fund the elections office I do not see how you can justify that.” She explained that her staff salaries fall behind other supervisor of elections staff salaries of a similar size.
Ms. Anderson’s statements were effective with the board agreeing to fund her proposed budget, which is an additional $292,000 over the $955,000 the board was initially allocating for her budget. The funding will be taken out of OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) funds. OPEB’s are postemployment benefits other than pensions including health insurance, dental, vision, prescription, or other healthcare benefits provided to eligible retirees. These funds have essentially been promised to the county’s employees after retirement so will most likely have to be paid back when they are needed.
Related article: http://hernandosun.com/supervisor_of_elections_budget