Counties seeking special election funds
North State counties are looking to the state to reimburse funds for the 4th Senate District special election and Republican Assemblyman Brian Dahle of Redding is taking the lead.
The unanticipated expenses caused by the Jan. 8 runoff between Republican Jim Nielsen and Democrat Michael Harrington were absorbed by the counties in the district. Those counties are asking for legislation to be introduced to recoup those funds.
The runoff election cost the 12 North State counties about $1 million, the Colusa County Elections Office reported in January.
Those counties in the 4th Senate District included Butte, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, part of Nevada, part of Placer, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba counties. Redistricting in 2011 will take effect in 2014.
Colusa County Clerk-Recorder Kathleen Moran is adding up the costs, but estimates that the l bill is around $35,000 to the county.
That includes more than $16,000 in direct costs, such as printing and postage, but does not include staff time. The unexpected costs were covered by the county's general fund.
"These are huge amounts for us to absorb. It doesn't sound like a lot of money, but operationally it is a lot of money for us," said Moran.
"If there is a way to get some money back from reimbursement, that would be lovely because it can be used for other projects."
Dahle is seeking allies across the isle to introduce legislation to reimburse counties for special election costs from the state in perpetuity.
"Continually, the local taxpayer gets left holding the bill," said Dahle.
"I don't want to just address the one time issue, because it will happen again and our rural counties are impacted. ... That's one reason I ran for state Assembly. They continue to balance their budget on the backs of counties and it's wrong."
"Now it will go to the Assembly and we'll see where it goes. You never know what is going to happen. My only expectation is to follow the process, make the request and get back to the day-to-day stuff," said Moran.
According to Moran, there has been legislation introduced in the past that would require the state to always reimburse counties for special election costs, but those bills have never gotten out of committee.
The Jan. 8 special election was required after a series of circumstances.
In a special election that had been consolidated to the November general election, Nielsen and Harrison were vying to fill Sen. Doug LaMalfa's position.
He resigned in August to run for Congress, a seat in which he won to replace Rep. Wally Herger.
In November, Nielsen received 49.8 percent of the vote, just shy of the 50 percent plus one needed to avoid the runoff. Harrington received 27.7 percent.
Nielsen won in the Jan. 8 runoff with 66.6 percent of the vote.