LITTLE VALLEY – After years of talk, it now appears that the Cattaraugus County Board of Elections will move from its longtime home at 302 Court St. to space in the former Little Valley Elementary School.
County Administrator Jack Searles said new voting regulations and the prospect of more in the future, coupled with a building in a serious state of disrepair, make it imperative that the operation be moved.
In its current configuration, the Board of Elections takes up main-floor space, a basement area and storage at the Olean County Building.
“The new space will offer just a smidge more room,” Searles said. But that does not seem to be of real concern.
“For the past few years, we have found ourselves having to put more and more into that building,” he said of the board’s current home.
It will be necessary to ensure the area in the former school is capable of housing the voting machines while still offering space for daily operations to continue. The plans would retain office space for Democratic and Republican commissioners, while maintaining public access areas.
Voting machines would be housed in two former classrooms, one with 30 machines and the other 32. The rooms would have power so the units could be tested and other various functions, as directed by state and federal regulations, according to floor plans and preparations by Wendel Architects of Buffalo.
Funding for the project has already been taken care of, according to Searles.
“We already have some monies set aside,” he said. “We have already paid for it, in context of the budget, through the capital project.”
More than $480,000 is in an account for the relocation project, but it is expected only about $50,000 will be needed.
After the move, there is uncertainty about what will happen to the current Board of Elections building.
“I envision that building not being there,” Searles said.
Demolition of a building that size would carry a hefty price tag, something county officials have been considering for as long as a move has been contemplated.
“A capital project fund already exists for the project,” he said. “We bonded out for it as well. We went out and bonded for $50,000.”
But that would not be nearly enough money, so the matter will be decided by the County Legislature.
According to state law, a county board of elections must be headquartered in the county seat. For this move, no other facility in the incorporated limits of the Village of Little Valley would meet the board’s needs.