SIDNEY – Working to ensure it utilizes available funds before upcoming deadlines, the Shelby County Board of Elections made plans to spend grant money during its Dec. 21 meeting.

The Board of Elections has funds available from two grants – a Center for Tech and Civic Life grant and a Help America Vote Act grant.

With the Center for Tech and Civic Life grant, the board voted to spend approximately $5,744 on training projection equipment.

Board of Elections officials previously discussed purchasing a television monitor for their training needs. However, after consulting with the county’s information technology department and viewing projection systems at other local agencies, Director Pam Kerrigan said a projection system would be a better option. The screen is easier to read from a distance, she said, and the projector lasts 20,000 hours.

Low Voltage Solutions, of Sidney, provided a quote of $4,685.59 for a laser projector and screen. A laptop to operate the system would be $1,059, bringing the total cost to approximately $5,744.

After purchasing the projection system, the board will have approximately $7,500 left through the Center for Tech and Civic Life grant.

The board decided to pay its temporary employees who worked at the early voting center and as absentee ballot processors for the 2020 general election. The workers will be paid a percentage of the $7,500, based on how much they worked during the general election.

The Board of Elections is using the Help America Vote Act grant funds to address Americans with Disabilities Act concerns at the Board of Elections office. The grant deadline is Feb. 1, necessitating the board to move quickly to ensure projects are completed by the deadline.

“I just want to make sure the money doesn’t expire and our friend in Columbus at ADA doesn’t hold this up and that we get it to the commissioners for their approval in a timely manner,” Chairman Jim Kerg said.

Deputy Director Collin Claywell said he sought three quotes apiece for two projects, an electric door opener for the front door of the office and two handrails at the back door. As of Dec. 21, he had received two quotes for the electric door system and one for the handrails.

Board members weren’t certain whether they were required to receive three bids to meet the grant requirements or just solicit three bids.

The board members voted to accept the low bid for the electric door project, contingent on confirming their bid solicitation would satisfy the grant requirements. If it’s determined they’ve met the requirements, they would seek approval from the Shelby County commissioners to move forward with the project.

Claywell will continue seeking bids for the handrail project.

The board also expressed interest in using Help America Vote Act grant funds to repave the parking lot outside the Board of Elections office. The project wouldn’t be completed prior to Feb. 1, so the board has to determine whether it can select a contractor by the deadline and lock in the grant funds for future work.

In other action, the board discussed possibly hosting classes to help political candidates understand how to fill out candidacy petitions. Board member Jim Thompson said he thought the instruction would be a good public service while Kerg expressed apprehension. Kerg wanted to ensure the classes wouldn’t conflict with Ohio Revised Code and worried about the board’s culpability if a petition was rejected after a candidate received guidance from the Board of Elections.

The board received a directive from the Secretary of State’s Office about a new electronic campaign finance filing system for candidates. Kerrigan forwarded the information to local candidates, and Thompson suggested the board also should share the information with the chairs of the local political parties.

Thompson is working on a business continuation plan, which is required by Homeland Security.

The board will have staff evaluations in the future with Kerrigan, Claywell and Clerk Trina Riethman.

The board also approved bills for payment.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 18.

By Kyle Shaner

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Reach the writer at [email protected] or 937-538-4824.