Hartford Registrars Seek Additional Funding From City
Say They Can't Afford November Election
By JENNA CARLESSO
October 05, 2012
HARTFORD —— The city's registrars of voters are seeking additional funds that they say they need to run the Nov. 6 general election.
Salvatore Bramante, the city's Republican registrar, and Olga Iris Vazquez, his Democratic counterpart, submitted a request for funding to the city council last month, saying the issue is "urgent, as current departmental funding is insufficient to support the event in the manner required by law."
The registrars provided a spreadsheet in the request, which breaks down the various costs they say are required for the November election and to pay employees, including themselves, through the fiscal year. The spreadsheet shows that the office would run $115,624 short after covering the various costs. It does not include costs associated with the re-vote for the 5th State House District primary that took place Oct.1.
The request notes that the city council cut the registrars' budget last spring.
"You will recall that the flat line budget of $763,909, which was requested of the department by the mayor for fiscal year 2012-13, was reduced by the council to $583,909, seemingly with little consideration for the activities required of the department by statute," Bramante and Vazquez wrote in a letter to city council President Shawn Wooden, dated Sept. 14. "We trust that council will review this request taking into consideration the responsibilities of this department and its attempts to provide appropriate services to the voters of the city of Hartford while avoiding any possible disenfranchisement."
In tallying up the department's expenses throughout the year, however, it lists the starting budget at $563,909, when in fact the city's adopted 2012-13 budget allocated $583,909 for the department. Bramante and Vazquez did not return calls seeking comment Friday.
Wooden recommended that the registrars direct their request for funding to Mayor Pedro Segarra, saying the council cannot transfer money from one department to another without a request from the mayor. He also pointed out in his response that the council already had approved additional funds for the registrars' office earlier in the fiscal year. The council approved a request for an additional $80,000 to help cover the costs of the city's Aug. 14 primary election and is currently considering a request to grant the office about $8,500 that would cover "excess expenditures" made during the previous fiscal year, Wooden said.
Bramante sent a subsequent e-mail to Segarra on Sept. 21 with the request for funding attached.
"Mayor, we understand that there are some monies available in our general fund, but as you review the attachments, it becomes clear that our department will be in a deficit spending level prior to the Nov. 6 election," Bramante wrote.
Segarra has not yet made a request to the city council for additional funds for the registrars' office. He did not return calls seeking comment Friday.
Wooden said Friday that when the council reduced the registrars' budget, there were different ideas for where the cuts should be made, including reductions in elections expenses or in office staffing.
"At least one council member has publicly stated that he believed the deputy registrars should be eliminated," Wooden said. "Different people had different ideas of what should be reduced in the office, but the general consensus was that the level of spending was in excess of where it should be."
If the mayor were to make a request to give the registrars' office more money, he said, "we would certainly consider it, but I don't know if the appetite [to give more] is there."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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