Funding request denied

Published 2:29 pm Saturday, September 26, 2009

WINDSOR – A request by the Bertie County Board of Elections fell short by one vote here Monday night.

During the regular meeting of the Bertie County Commissioners, a 3-2 vote defeated a motion to offer a 15 percent match for the elections board to seek a grant through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The board, however, did tell Elections Board Chairman Michael Freeman that the grant request could proceed.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb began the conversation by telling commissioners about the request. He said that the parking lot at the Bertie County Board of Elections Office needed to be paved as did a portion of property at the Hexlena Community Building, where one of the county’s polling places is located.

He said HAVA offered grants that were designed to help disabled persons have better access to voting centers.

Commission Chairman Norman M. Cherry Sr. asked Freeman, who was in attendance, to explain what was needed. Freeman said the elections board wanted to move forward because, eventually, the paving would likely be mandated.

“We feel like it’s now or later and now we can get assistance through the grant,” Freeman said.

Freeman said the grants were competitive and the more match offered by the county, the more likely it would be funded. Cherry then asked how much the elections board would suggest and Freeman said 25 percent.

Commissioners discussed matching the grant in an amount between 10 and 25 percent and Commission Vice Chairman L.C. Hoggard III made a motion to match the grant at 15 percent. Cherry seconded the motion.

When the vote came, Cherry and Hoggard voted in favor of the motion, but Commissioners J. Wallace Perry, Charles Smith and Rick Harrell voted in opposition.

Cherry declared the motion defeated.

Freeman asked if the board was voting against matching funds or if they were against the grant being submitted at all. He was told the grant could be submitted.

Lamb said he would begin the paperwork which requires the county to say why no match was offered.