County expenses for Proposition 1 referendum expected to be about $177,000

photo by: Nick Krug

A stack of mail-in Proposition 1 ballots sits at the Douglas County Courthouse on Monday, May 7, 2018.

When all the bills are paid, Douglas County will have spent about $177,000 to conduct this spring’s mail-in ballot for Proposition 1 and to provide educational material to voters.

In January, the Douglas County Commission agreed to conduct the mail-in ballot election asking voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to fund an expansion of the county jail and to create a behavioral health campus.

Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said he still had not received a bill for what was by far the biggest expense from the mail-in ballot. The clerk’s office hired the Omaha, Neb., firm of Election Systems and Software to print Proposition 1 ballots, process them for mailing and send them to county voters.

“They specialize in this,” Shew said. “They said they had a lot of special elections in May and are a little behind in billing.”

Shew does have a good estimate of how much the Election Systems and Software bill will be. The clerk’s office entered into a contract with Election Systems and Software not to exceed $150,000, which was the cost of printing and mailing 70,000 ballots. There were, however, about 63,000 voters when registration closed before the referendum, Shew said. He estimated that the cost of printing and mailing that many ballots to be about $130,000.

Additionally, the clerk’s office spent $13,054 on postage for ballots mailed back to the Courthouse, Shew said. Its other expenses were $4,216 for the temporary workers who helped the last week of the election, $900 for legal notices printed in the Journal-World and $67 for mileage.

Assistant County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said the county’s cost for printing 37,500 educational brochures and mailing 35,937 of them to households with at least one registered voter was $28,740. That cost included the brochure’s design, printing and the postprinting processing, which included folding, stapling and postage, she said. It did not include the time she and County Administrator Craig Weinaug spent in providing and reviewing copy for the brochures, she said.


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