ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced Wednesday he vetoed a measure that would have added new supervisor jobs to the county’s Board of Elections.
“This will raise taxes in Monroe county by a half a million dollars,” Bello said. “This is simply unacceptable and I’m here today to announce that I have vetoed this proposal.”
The legislature passed the measure late last month, even though there was some division on the matter.
“These are permanent positions that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars in the years to come,” said Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart (D-21) in May.
Barnhart added some of the six new supervisory jobs will have annual pay rates between $76,000 and $98,000.
Those in favor of creating the positions say there’s been a number of election law changes since COVID-19, and they need to accommodate 256,000 voters with limited staff. However Barnhart called it a “shameful ploy to create jobs for friends at the Board of Elections.”
“We have been open and transparent about our willingness to assist the board,” Bello said. “At no time did anyone on the Board or County Legislature Republican majority approach my administration. It is clear they did not want a full vetting of this proposal. It is the wrong way of doing business, it is the wrong way of running a county government, and reeks of the ways of past administration that county residents rejected in November.”
The Democratic County Executive said additional seasonal staff has been hired to assist the Board of Elections, with the influx of absentee ballots expected due to the pandemic, but said the timing and cost is what led to the veto.
“The resolution that was presented to us was given six hours before the meeting to create six new positions that would cost half million to taxpayers,” Bello said.
A joint statement from Democrat Acting Commissioner Lashana Boose and Republican Election Commissioner Lisa Polito Nicolay.
“We are surprised that County Executive Adam Bello decided to veto the bi-partisan legislation that would have created six desperately needed positions in the Monroe County Board of Elections.
After digesting Governor Cuomo’s unprecedented executive order to mail absentee ballot applications to every eligible voter in Monroe County, we concluded that our existing staffing model could not guarantee the secure completion of the Governor’s mandate and election law requirments.
We jointly reached out to Executive Bello’s Human Resources Department seeking additional full time staff. We shared that during the 2016 Presidential Primaries approximately 6,265 absentee applications were mailed out and 3,975 absentee ballots were returned. The June 23, 2020 election required over 257,000 absentee applications to be sent out and their response was to allow a limited number of seasonal clerks.
With our duty to protect the sanctity of the electoral process in mind, we contacted the County’s Governing Body, the Monroe County Legislature, for assistance. (New York State Election Law 3-300) Thankfully, they supported our efforts to ensure a fair, secure and efficient election.
The vetoed positions are necessary for the supervision of the seasonal staff and the long-term improvement of the Board. This veto means our current staff at the MCBOE must continue to work 10 and 12 hours shifts, seven days a week to comply with three elections on June 23, 2020.
We sincerely hope that the County Legislature takes the necessary steps to override this unwise veto.”
Barnhart released a statement about the veto Wednesday:
“County Executive Adam Bello did the right thing in vetoing these unnecessary patronage jobs. My colleagues in the legislature acted irresponsibly when it approved these positions, as the county is facing a massive budget deficit and uncertainty in the months ahead. When the elections commissioners were pressed about why these positions were needed, they revealed they hadn’t even written up job descriptions. This debacle shows why we need an open, transparent process to choose a new Democratic Board of Elections Commissioner. I applaud County Executive Bello’s leadership on this issue.”
We asked Minority Leader Vince Felder, one of five democrats who joined 15 republicans to vote for the measure, if he has plans to override it.
“I have a request in to schedule a meeting with the president,” Felder said.