Stanislaus County puts $1.77M into election fund

Stanislaus County Clerk Lee Lundrigan will have $1.77 million to spend on educating voters, recruiting and training poll workers, paying election workers, and buying voting equipment as a result of a vote Tuesday night by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.

The money comes from the federal Help America Vote Act, approved in 2002 to improve the administration of elections in the United States. The Stanislaus County money is an extension of a previous grant of $2.44 million the county received two years ago.

The county spent $670,000 of that money before the contract concluded, and the secretary of state's office decided that a new grant contract was needed for the county to get the remainder of the money.

The county clerk's office intends to use the money for voter education and outreach, recruitment and training of poll workers, support of the county's new voting system, and to meet alternative language requirements. It will not buy new voting machines.

The clerk's office will be conducting three elections in 2008: the presidential primary on Feb. 5, a state primary election on June 3 and the presidential election on Nov. 4.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept the grant money.

The board also voted to begin the process of creating a County Service Area in Keyes to pay for the maintenance of several parks and the new storm drainage system the county is building there.

The service area would incorporate three existing service areas, for the Raymond Tract, La Jolla and Sunray Estates. Those service areas would be dissolved if residents approve the Keyes service area.

The new service area would have a budget of $175,000, and each residential property would be assessed $161 annually.

The county redevelopment agency has been funding the construction of the storm drain system to alleviate flooding problems in the older residential areas of Keyes and the downtown and commercial areas. The $20 million project includes a filtration system, a pumping station and storm drains, as well as curbs and gutters in the older residential areas and downtown.

The filtration system has been completed, and construction of the rest of the system is expected to start in May.

County officials will be attending community meetings in Keyes in coming months to publicize the vote on the service area and to update residents on the progress of the storm drain system.

A public hearing on forming the County Service Area will be held in early April, according to Matt Machado, public works director. If the property owners vote against the service area, the existing service areas will remain intact, he said.

The supervisors voted unanimously to begin the process of forming the service area.

Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at tmoran@modbee.com or 578-2349.