BATAVIA – Genesee County has fought unfunded state mandates for years, but now it faces another expensive addition if an early voting proposal is approved in Albany.
The Legislature on Wednesday went on record opposing a bill from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that would require five of the county’s 51 polling places to be open for early voting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. 14 days before a general election and seven days before a primary.
Election Commissioners Richard E. Siebert and Dawn E. Cassidy told the Legislature that they estimate the cost at more than $100,000. The department’s budget is $420,000, so the proposal would mean almost a 25 percent increase.
The proposal has other hurdles along with the pay for inspectors. Existing polling places include schools, church rooms and fire department recreation halls that are not open Saturdays and Sundays. Utility costs and moving election machines from storage also would add to the unfunded expense.
Siebert believes Silver sponsored the bill because of long lines at voting places in the New York City area. Genesee County does not have that problem, even with a 70 percent turnout in last year’s presidential election, he said.
The Legislature also wants an increase in state funding for bridges and roads to “foster economic development for moving food and fiber products to market” and helping tourism.
The lawmakers noted that the state Department of Transportation has “recently downgraded the safety of roads and bridges.” Improvements and repairs to move products and people are needed in upstate New York where public transportation is not available, the resolution states.
In other business, the legislators:
• Established two capital projects for this year. One would extend utilities at the DeWitt Recreation Park at a cost of $51,000, the other would repair the roof and cupola at the historic county courthouse. The funds would come from a sales tax reserve fund that is used for capital improvements.
• Approved a one-year contract for $19,000 with Batavia Bus Lines to provide transportation to dialysis services for patients at the county nursing home.