Benton County OKs new voting machines

Posted: October 27, 2017 at 1:08 a.m.

Poll worker Joe Kunkel helps start the voting machine for Elysium Travis on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, inside Hope Church in Bentonville.

BENTONVILLE -- Benton County's justices of the peace on Thursday approved spending more than $2.3 million for voting equipment.

The county will finance the cost of the machines, totalling $2,352,000, over five years, according to Brenda Guenther, comptroller. Guenther said the county will likely pay interest on the purchase in the range of 2 percent.

"That's pretty cheap money," Kurt Moore, justice of the peace said. "We're not going to be spending a lot of money on interest at that rate."

Pat Adams, justice of the peace, said the county has to be aware the purchase will cost more than the interest on the purchase.

"I remind you there has to be principal paid along with that every month or every year," Adams said.

Tom Allen, justice of the peace, said the county can pay off the money in less than five years with no penalty. Allen, who is chairman of the Budget Committee, also said the purchase is being built into the 2018 budget.

"We will be taking that into account," Allen said.

The county will be buying 475 voting machines, plus 65 ballot counters and 150 printers needed for the voting system. Guenther said the County Clerk's Office is paying $119,500 for the printers needed.

The new equipment has been approved for use by the state and adopted by some counties in Arkansas, including Washington County. Some of the cost of new machines for those other counties was offset by money from the state in a pilot program to test the equipment but no state money was available for Benton County.

Also Thursday, the Quorum Court approved dissolving the Benton County Dive Team Board and placing the dive team under the Sheriff's Office. The board suspended operation after two members of the team were arrested in connection with misuse of dive team equipment. The members of the board recommended the operation under the authority of the sheriff.

The justices of the peace also approved the property tax millage for 2018, leaving the tax level unchanged. The county has a 5 mill property tax for the general fund, a 1.9 mill property tax for the road fund and a 0.2 mill property tax for the ambulance service improvement district. The county also has voluntary property taxes of 2 mills for the road fund, 2 mills for emergency medical services and 0.2 mills to support the Historical Preservation Commission.

NW News on 10/27/2017