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Fiscal Court approves security for voting machines

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by WILLIAM B. CARROLL, Spencer Magnet Editor
The Spencer County Fiscal Court approved additional security measures for the county’s voting machines in advance of the 2014 elections, but not without serious debate.
Spencer County Clerk Lynn Hesselbrock presented the proposals to the court during its regularly scheduled meeting Monday. One of the proposals was submitted by Alarm-1 and would include the installation of new equipment and a five year commitment by the county for monitoring. The cost of the system would be $250 for the installation and $30 per month for monitoring. County Judge Executive Bill Karrer said that such a contract would push well into the next administration, and that it had been the court’s policy not to enter into such long term engagements. Another proposal from Radio Shack was for only $300 and would allow the county to cancel the contract at any time.
Magistrate Jerry Davis said that he did not understand the need for such a security system and that securing the voting machines would be a waste of money. Hesselbrock informed the court that the county is not in compliance with Kentucky Board of Election requirements for security on the machines and that the county’s security plan was due to the board by March 1.
In addressing Davis’ concerns Hesselbrock said, “Why would you not want to spend money to insure the integrity of the election? Especially when it is such a small amount of money.”
Hesselbrock pointed out that there have been concerns with voter fraud in Kentucky and that she wants to provide as much security as possible to the machines.
Davis then continued to argue his position by pointing out that small amounts of money eventually add up to larger amounts of money and that he still did not see the need for such security. Davis made a motion to do nothing about the improved security which was ultimately defeated 5 to 1 with Davis the lone vote for his motion. The board approved the Radio Shack proposal by a vote of 5 to 1 with Davis the lone dissenter.
The court also approved a motion to put two vehicles, earmarked for the Spencer County Sheriff’s office, out for bid. According to Judge Executive Karrer, the county has $50,000 in its budget for the purchase of the two new vehicles. Sheriff Buddy Stump originally received two quotes from local dealers lower than the state bid price and wanted the court to approve the purchase of the two vehicles without submitting them for bid.
One of the vehicles was a 2014 Dodge truck, priced at $25,851, and the other a 2014 Ford Police Interceptor, priced at $24,357.81. Stump said that the vehicles were being provided to the county at basically dealer cost.
Magistrate David Goodlett was concerned that the vehicles had not been put out for bid, and with how the sheriff obtained quotes for the vehicles. Stump said that it was his understanding that he did not need to put the vehicles out for bids if the price proposals were lower than the state contract bid amount.
Karrer said that during a recent Kentucky Association of Counties meeting, KACO attorney Rich Ornstein said that the county could do what Stump was proposing if the county followed the Model Procurement Code. However, since the county does not follow the MPC it would either have to submit the vehicles for bid or accept the state bid contract.
Stump said he would do whatever the court wants but that he felt putting the vehicles out for bid would be a “total waste of time.” The court voted 6-0 to follow the recommendation outlined by Karrer and put both potential vehicles out for bid.
Magistrate Hobert Judd suggested that the court look into the county’s 911 dispatch contract. Currently the county has a contract with the Kentucky State Police to provide 911 services. Judd said that he was bringing up the issue because he wanted to get the various departments to give their opinion on the system.
Karrer said the county currently pays the state police $89,500 per the year under the contract. He added that the county also pays AT&T an equipment charge of $9,450.48 for a total cost of $98,950.48. Karrer told the magistrates that he would be in favor of reviewing the contract because the county is projected to receive significantly less than the $98,950. He said that the county had projected $104,300 in income from landline charges but that projected collections would only amount $86,784.21. He said that the collections go down each year due to less citizens using landlines.
Davis opposed any discussion of eliminating the state police contract saying that such a proposal is a bad idea.
“It works fantastic for us,” Taylorsville Police Chief Toby Lewis said. He added that his department has experienced some issues but that generally the state police have worked well with him.
Taylorsville-Spencer County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Nathan Nation seconded Lewis’ comments and added that anytime he has had any issues he has simply spoken to KSP a supervisor to resolve them.
Sheriff Stump agreed that KSP has been better than they were in the past but that his department has had several issues with KSP 911 services.
“We have to call numerous times to Frankfort to get a response on the radio,” Stump said. “We don’t need to be calling out four or five times to get Frankfort’s answers.”
Stump added that even after his office clears a call it may be hours later before the state police get back with him.
The court took no action on the contract.
In other matters before the court:
• Karrer gave the magistrates an update on various insurance claims from the county road department and EMS. He said that the county had received an estimate of $9,500 to repair damage on an out building at the road department.
“Last week was not a good week for the road department,” Karrer said. He was speaking about two accidents the department suffered in exactly the same spot which was reported last week in The Spencer Magnet. He added that another vehicle, a Ford F-450, suffered significant engine failure and that the cost of replacement would exceed the value of the truck. This led to a follow-up discussion by the magistrates wanting information on such accidents as they happen. Magistrate Mike Moody submitted a proposed ordinance to be read at the next meeting which would resolve such issues.
• Karrer told the council that the Old Heady Road bridge repairs are underway. He stated that crews started pouring concrete last week.
• The court unanimously approved expenditures, purchases, invoices and transfers.
• The court also approved moving forward with a proposed grant application for $100,000 to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The matter will be set for public hearing.
• The magistrates asked for additional info regarding a proposed agreement between Spencer County and KentuckianaWorks. Specifically, the magistrates were looking for facts and figures regarding what KW does for citizens of Spencer County. The matter was tabled until a later meeting.