Glynn County’s finance committee recommended allowing the county Board of Elections to move ahead with a third early voting polling place in the Ballard Complex, taking the revenue hit from running a polling place out of the rental venue.
Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell told board members in January that opening a third early voting location would cost around $8,500 per election and $17,000 at a minimum for the 2020 presidential election cycle.
To give Glynn County’s busy voters more options, the board hopes to open a new early voting polling place in the county-owned Ballard Complex at the corner of Community and Old Jesup roads.
In addition, the board is also looking into moving a polling place from its current location in a church to the Brookman Recreation Building in Baldwin Park.
“To support this request, the Ballard Building will be out of public rental service for 122 days and the Brookman Building will be out of service for 11 days,” according to a memo from Public Works Director Dave Austin to the committee. “Based on last year’s statistics this will cost Glynn County 49 days of rental revenue at Ballard at a cost of $3,675 and 11 days of revenue for Brookman at $825 for a total of $4,500 potential loss of revenue.”
On Tuesday, Austin told the committee the revenue loss didn’t matter.
“The bottom line is, if they use this for the Ballard building, it will take the Ballard building out of public service for about 120 days,” Austin said. “That means I will not be renting to any citizen for any kind of part or any other kind of get-together — family reunion or whatever. The Brookman building, out in Baldwin, take that out of service for 11 days.”
He said the issue wasn’t the money, as the building is practically revenue-neutral, but he wanted the county commission to know what it would mean to allow the board to run an early voting polling place out of the Ballard Complex.
“It’s a service that we provide the citizens. The money that we make, the money that the county makes, is inconsequential because it costs me probably as much to run it as it makes in fees,” Austin explained. “The money that we’re not making is money that I’m going to save not cleaning and not scheduling. That part is a wash.
“I just wanted the commissioners to know that this is a service we provide the citizens that we can’t provide the citizens when we’re using it for voting.”
Committee member Bill Brunson asked why it would be necessary to take the building out of circulation for 122 days.
For all the elections the board is required to provide three weeks of early voting, said Channel. The building would also have to be secured and access restricted to elections personnel only during the voting period.
“In my opinion, there is no greater use of that building than the voting process. The public, all the community gets to use it,” Channell said.
Ultimately, the committee unanimously recommended the county commission allow the board of elections to use the Ballard Complex.
Committee members also decided to recommend the county award an $84,593 sidewalk construction contract to Swindell Construction of Glennville.
If approved by the Glynn County Commission, Swindell will lay a new sidewalk along the south side of Kings Way on St. Simons Island from the public parking area on Ocean Boulevard to the Mallery Street and Kings Way intersection.
“You may think that that’s a lot of money for 210 feet of sidewalk,” Austin said. “That’s about 400 bucks a linear foot, but there is some curb replacement, there is some drainage down at the end we’re doing, and there is some marking at the entry points going into Mellow Mushroom.”
“You will see, down in the village, numerous times when there’re lots of folks, that there’s trouble navigating this side of the right of way because there just is no sidewalk.”
Austin said the contractor was also hired locally to lay new sidewalks on Ocean Boulevard, Chapel Crossing Road and Gateway Boulevard and has done some work on the under-construction veterans memorial park as a subcontractor.
In other business, the committee unanimously recommended the Glynn County Commission:
• Sign a new five-year contract with Altamaha Park of Glynn County Inc. for management of Altamaha Park.
• Accept a nearly $300,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for the Glynn County Police Department and spend just shy of $100,000 on new vehicles.
• Retire two police dogs, allow their partner and former owner to adopt them and to begin looking for three new dogs.
• Approve a $93,600 reduction in the $1.94 million veterans memorial park construction contract with Altamaha Building Systems and an $89,700 purchase order to Georgia Power for the purchase of lighting for the park.
The Glynn County Commission will consider making a final ruling on many of these items at its next regular meeting on Nov. 7. The finance committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 26.