LaGrange City Council decided Tuesday to go with the new Troup County Board of Elections to oversee its 2013 municipal elections.
“(County Manager Tod Tentler) has assumed they will do the training and have the resources and get this right,” LaGrange City Manager Tom Hall said.
“Why would we have an elections board if we’re not going to use it?” Councilman Willie Edmondson asked.
Before making a decision, Councilman Jim Thornton asked what the cost would be to what the city has paid for elections. Hall said the county has reported the costs would be similar to what Boyd required, perhaps even cheaper.
The Troup County Commission’s decision in March to switch to a board of elections to oversee countywide races means Hogansville and West Point also will have to decide who to use. Neither of the smaller cities has discussed the matter, although West Point City Manager Ed Moon said earlier this year the council was not considering a change.
Commissioners voted March 17 to create the elections board, in spite of the opposition of Probate Judge Donald Boyd, who currently serves as elections superintendent and has for the last 12 years. The board will handle his duties.
The board, which will take effect Jan. 1, is be made up of two people appointed by the county commission, one each appointed by Hogansville, West Point and LaGrange city councils and one each from the Troup County Republican Party and Troup County Democratic Party.
The group will begin holding monthly meetings in January.
The membership recently met to get to know each other. Serving staggered terms are William F. Higgins, appointed by the city of Hogansville, one year; Gloria Watson, city of West Point, one year; J.C. Cameron, Troup County, three years; A.R. Ransom, city of LaGrange, two years; Jane McCoy, Troup County, three years; Ellen Gilmore, Republican Party, two years.
Cities are responsible for holding their own municipal elections but have used Boyd for a superintendent at a cost of $3,500 a year. There still are other expenses for each city’s election, such as payment of poll workers. The cities’ total expenses for the last municipal race in November 2011 were $19,500 in LaGrange and $11,000 in West Point. Hogansville’s total expenses were not available.
Having one superintendent for all elections means it’s been a one-stop shop for voting information, including registration and qualifying for races. It’s not immediately known how the county’s use of an elections board would change that.
The cities do have options. They can continue to use Boyd as superintendent, hold their own election with their own superintendent or use the county’s new elections board.
The voting machines and other equipment actually belong to the state, not the county, and still would be dispersed to cities accordingly. Even with a change, cities wouldn’t have to spring for the cost of their own equipment for municipal elections.
At the time of the county’s decision, Troup County Manager Mike Dobbs said an elections board would make elections “more open and transparent” with more input from residents, and that most counties are moving toward a board rather than superintendent.
Council also voted Tuesday to annex property on Hamilton Road behind Lafayette Christian School. The property was in the county but the school asked it be annexed into the city to be able to expand its campus.
Council also agreed to change the zoning at Bridgewood Shopping Center from neighborhood commercial to general commercial, which will allow for a larger sign advertising the businesses.