The Joint Board of Elections Supervisor Caroline Fawkes said that the $1.6 million dollar budget request she was proposing to the Legislature was up from last year’s budget of $1.4 million. The only objection to the proposal submitted by the joint board on Thursday was from member Adelbert Bryan, who said that the budget did not include upgrading the St. Croix office to be compliant with the America Disabilities Act.
Bryan said that the St. Thomas office has already been renovated to be compliant but he had seen no movement to improve the St. Croix office.
Member Ray Williams said there was no money for that renovation project and that the proposed budget should not be held up on account of it.
“It has been a concern for us and continues to be a concern,” Fawkes acknowledged, explaining the proposal that would go before the Legislature was the “day-to-day” working budget. She said the improvements for the St. Croix office needed to be done with capital improvement funds.
Fawkes said that the budget proposal did include funds for step increases for staff salaries and for attorney fees.
Attorney fees appeared to be another issue of contention for Bryan. He questioned Fawkes about a letter she sent to the president of the Legislature rescinding a request for funds to pay for attorney fees incurred by Bryan in a certain lawsuit.
Fawkes said the letter was necessary because a previous letter requesting attorney fees could have been interpreted too broadly.
Seven Election Board members from St. Thomas/St. John district and five from St. Croix attended the meeting at the St. Croix Cardiac Care Center. The first hour of the meeting concerned rearranging items on the agenda and training issues. The training issues concerned dates for training and also whether board members who did not show up for all the classes in training should be held liable for the funds the board loses when it is not reimbursed for member’s costs who don’t receive certificates.
After the board approved the budget proposal 10 to two; members recessed before an executive session was called. The executive session was to include discussion of the selection of a deputy for the St. Thomas/St. John district and other personnel and financial matters.
An election reform meeting is scheduled for June 18-19. The next joint board meeting will be in August.