HUDSON–Columbia County’s two election commissioners thought they had negotiated $20,000 raises that would have brought their annual $10,000 salaries up to $30,000 because of the increased hours they have had to work to get new voting machines up and running. The county purchased the machines as part of its effort to comply with federal and state laws and regulations.
The new salaries for the two commissioners, Virginia Martin, the Democrat, and Jason Nastke, the Republican, are part of the county budget now in place, but the commissioners did not realize that actually getting the money required them to draft a resolution authorizing their salary adjustments and then to shepherd the resolution through the Salary and Budget Committee of the county Board of Supervisors during the commissioners’ busiest time of year, the November election season.
Then the county instituted a salary freeze, which might have left their salaries at $10,000. But at its February 7 meeting, the county’s Finance Committee approved raises that would bring the salary of each commissioner to $20,000. The committee also removed a sunset clause.
Before the raises can take effect the measure must receive the approval of the entire Board of Supervisors, although most resolutions adopted by the board’s committees do receive the support of a majority of the board.
The commissioners made state election history by conducting a hand count of 100% of the ballot cast in the November election, Columbia the only county in the state to thoroughly review the accuracy of the new electronic ballot scanning machines. The action may also have deterred vote challenges similar to those litigated after the 2009 special election for Congress in the 20th District and the general election that fall.