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MT Votes Funding Budget Hearing


Posted Date: 
January 18, 2013
Contact: 
Harold Blattie, Executive Director, Montana Association of Counties

ATTN: Commissioners and Clerks

Recently you received a letter from the Secretary of State about funding for Montana Votes, the state-wide voter registration database.  I will forward that letter for reference as a separate e-mail, following this one.

Below are two e-mails from Lisa Kimmet about the funding for MT Votes (The state-wide voter data base required under the Help America Vote Act.  The funding for the creation of this data base was done through Federal HAVA money, however like many federal programs, start up money was available - but on-going maintenance costs is up to each state and/or county.

The Secretary of State's office first told us about the pending funding issue nearly three years ago but committed to making the federal money stretch as long as possible in order to get to this legislative session to request state general funds for the ongoing maintenance costs.

So here we are, without a state general fund appropriation, this ongoing maintenance cost will become a county responsibility.

In the e-mail from Lisa (below) she explains the rationale that was used to allocate those anticipated costs to counties in the future.  I understand that there is some concern, particularly from small counties because using a base amount for each county then an allocation based upon registered voters shifts some costs to smaller counties on a per-voter basis.  This will only come into play if the legislature DOES NOT fund MT Votes so we need to concentrate our efforts on getting state funding.  If successful, there is no need to even discuss an allocation to each county.

The Secretary of State requested this funding in the Executive Budget which is now in House Bill 2.  The hearing on the SOS budget is scheduled for Monday February 4, 2013.

It is important that there is a good showing of commissioners and clerks at the hearing to support this budget request.  If counties do not show up, the legislature will assume that it is not important to counties.

Email 1 from Lisa Kimmit, Deputy, Elections & Government Services Division Office, Office of Montana Secretary of State, Linda McCulloch (January 14, 2013)

Please find attached a letter [please see the link at the top of this post] sent to boards of county commissioners on Friday.  The letter is requesting support for state funding for the statewide voter registration system.  Also attached is an overview [please see the link at the top of this post] of the statewide voter registration system that was included with the letter.

We respectfully request support from MACo as well.

Please let me know if you have any questions or wish to discuss further.
 

Email 2 from Lisa Kimmit, Deputy, Elections & Government Services Division Office, Office of Montana Secretary of State, Linda McCulloch (January 15, 2013)

Harold –

I would like to give you a little bit of background on the formula we used to come up with an estimate of costs per county.

In the formula we came up with, each county pays a “base rate” of $9157.79.  This is based on the fixed costs of the system (vendor costs, HAVA ID verification system, help desk, change control and equipment upgrades), divided by the 56 counties. 

The non-fixed costs (State ITSD costs for hosting, licensing, etc), was prorated based on the county size groupings.  The non-fixed costs are more directly related to the size of the county (more county users, more license costs, etc.). 

So, for instance, the 15 smallest counties (less than 2000 registered voters) pay the base rate plus $280.99 for a total of $9438.78.  For the 2 urban counties (greater than 80,000 registered voters), they each pay the base rate plus $23,105.50, for a total of $32,263.28.

This seemed like a fair and equitable way to calculate costs, but the formula is not set in stone.  We did want to give counties a general idea of what kind of annual costs they might be looking at if the legislature does not fund the system.  Copied below is the county size groupings, with the cost per county.

2 urban counties >80,000

$32,263.28

4 large counties >30,000

$24,017.36

3 medium-large counties <30,000

$15,373.72

18 medium counties <15,000

$11,117.65

14 medium-small counties <5000

$10,025.18

15 small counties <2000

$9,438.78

 

Email 3 from Lisa Kimmit, Deputy, Elections & Government Services Division Office, Office of Montana Secretary of State, Linda McCulloch (January 16, 2013)

A hearing is scheduled on the SOS request for funding for MT Votes on Monday, February 4 at 8 a.m. before the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government (see member list below).

We would appreciate MACo coming to support the funding request.  I hope that  commissioners and clerks will be able to attend as well.

Member

Assignment

Ryan Osmundson

Chair

Alan Olson

Vice Chair

Edward Buttrey

Member

Champ Edmunds

Member

Kelly McCarthy

Member

David E Wanzenried

Member

 

Harold Blattie | hblattie@mtcounties.org | 406.449.4360