Assessment to be conducted at board of elections

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County commissioners on Thursday were informed the Department of Homeland Security will be conducting a risk and vulnerability assessment at the county board of elections next week.

Diane Gribble, board of elections director, said officials will do an assessment of the board’s computer network, the board’s office and all rooms containing equipment used during elections or storage of election material. The assessment will enhance the protection of the voting process, according to the secretary of state’s office.

The assessment will be held on Thursday.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose ordered all county boards of elections to conduct the assessment.

Gribble said the board must address and correct any security issues found during the assessment no later than Jan. 31. The county will be receiving a $50,000 grant, and most of that money will go toward cyber security updates, she said in a letter to the commissioners.

Commissioners accepted the 2020 tax budget. Auditor E.J. Conn said the proposed general fund budget is $17,685,127, with anticipated revenue of $15,302,416. Conn said the proposed department budgets are slightly less than what was requested last year, saying the departments are being conservative in requests for funding.

Cutting the proposed budgets will be a challenge, according to Commissioner Tom Gentile, especially since some departments include pay increases to workers. He said revenue is stable but the requests keep increasing.

Commissioner Thomas Graham said the proposed budget increases are typical this time of the year. He said commissioners will begin meeting with departments in October to discuss budget requests.

Commissioner David Maple agreed it will be a challenge to trim the budget requests and bring them in line with anticipated revenue.

The county’s general fund budget this year totals $17.5 million. There generally are carryover funds to help balance the budget.

Next year, the county will be faced with the challenge of an extra pay because of the calendar. The extra pay will cost the county about $150,000 for the general fund departments.

Commissioners said they will be informing Belmont County they will be renegotiating a contract to house Belmont County prisoners in the Jefferson County jail. Commissioners indicated they will be seeking an increase in the $55 a day cost for each prisoner. That amount has been in place for many years.

Anita Petrella, JB Green Team executive director, was asked about the possibility of the solid-waste authority increasing funding for a litter enforcement officer in the county. JB Green Team initially offered to pay for the officer and a vehicle but budget cutbacks only allowed for a vehicle. The county pays $61,000 a year for the litter enforcement officer, who is a deputy sheriff.

Petrella invited the commissioners to make a pitch to the JB Green Team board at its next meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Steubenville City Building.

Commissioners said they have been pleased with the work of the litter enforcement officer.

Commissioners agreed to advertise at the request of the county engineer’s department for a bridge replacement project on county Road 1. The estimate is $119,525.

The June report from the county animal shelter showed 80 dogs were brought to the shelter, 28 dogs were carried over from May and 37 dogs were adopted. The report showed 16 dogs were reclaimed, 18 dogs were sent to foster care and two sent to rescue groups. There were five dogs euthanized, two for aggression and three for medical reasons. There were four county humane society cases.

There will be no meeting of the commissioners next week.

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