The Faulkner County Quorum Court took steps toward getting new voting equipment during its regular meeting Tuesday.
Justices of the Peace unanimously approved an ordinance that would appropriate $500,000 to buy new machines contingent upon being selected by the state for a matching program.
“There’s $5 million that’s been appropriated by the governor or will be and it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis,” JP Steve Goode said. “We need to move fast on this.”
Goode said County Clerk Margaret Darter planned to apply for the program on Wednesday.
“This money will go quickly. I think we will be first in line,” he said.
JPs discussed the possibility of not paying off the Justice Building this year, as they voted to do earlier this year, if need be in order to set aside the $500,000 for the machines.
“I’d rather save a half million [dollars] than $35,000 or so,” Goode said referring to the savings the county will net by paying off the loan on the justice building early.
County Judge Jim Baker agreed the voting equipment should be a priority.
“We’re needing machines, no question about it,” he said.
County Administrator Tom Anderson said he was confident the county could do both.
“We can still pay that building off,” he said. “The intention this year, with [Treasurer] Scott [Sanson] and I, is to wait until the taxes have come in — in September or October — to make sure we don’t overspend. We’re not going to spend out our money if we don’t have it.”
He said the county currently has a little more than $430,000 that is not appropriated in addition to more than $350,000 in the 2 percent reserve, from which some of the money for the machines would come.
“We’ll have to ask for $16,170.76 of the 2 percent reserve” in order to pay off the justice building and purchase the voting machines, Anderson said.
Darter said the state’s portion of the partnership was not clear Tuesday but it would be at least a 50/50 grant, where the state matches each dollar the county puts up.
“The most I heard we would have to pay would be 50 percent,” Darter said, adding that it could be up to a 70/30 grant.
If the state approves the partnership, the money could purchase 200 voting machines.
Darter said the state would also help with maintenance expenses on the machines.