Fiscal court approves new voting machines, tables other upgrades

The Caldwell County Fiscal Court is getting new election voting machines. They are preparing for 2022 elections. Caldwell County Clerk Toni Watson (left) proposed replacing other clerk filing recording and indexing equipment and technology too. Magistrate Jeff Boone (center) and Judge-Executive Larry Curling (right) and the rest of the court moved to table the discussion for the next meeting in October.

The Caldwell County Fiscal Court discussed a needed upgrade to the county’s election system, facilities maintenance and infrastructure, among other issues, during Tuesday’s meeting.

When discussing new business, Caldwell County Judge-Executive Larry Curling explained TremCare is responsible for roof repairs and maintenance of county facilities and buildings. The court approved their contract renewal for 2021 with TremCare.

“We have been with them for several years,” Curling said.

The court moved to amend the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget. They had the first reading in August. They approved the second reading to amend the budget to account for and add $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

The CDBG funds are administered through the Pennyrile Area Development District for a utility assistance grant for Caldwell County residents.

Caldwell County Clerk Toni Watson presented election, recording and indexing system upgrades and bids. The county is preparing for an election in 2022.

Watson stated bids were released on Thursday for new voting machines. They received one bid on the election equipment. The Secretary of State is helping with the expenditure.

The machine vendor is reliable, as explained by Watson. The county has worked with them in the past during previous voting cycles.

She added the county may be reimbursed $30,000-$35,000 as early as December. She said legislative changes within the Secretary of State enabled the court and county to save money.

If voting precincts increase, more machines are going to be required, Watson said.

Magistrate Brent Stallins inquired if the old machines could be recycled locally, saving the court money on disposable fees.

The court approved replacing the voting machines, an expenditure of $112,803.

Watson proposed other clerk filing recording and indexing equipment and technology be replaced as well. She said the court received two bids.

“The bottom line is $76,000 versus $111,000,” Watson said.

She explained financing and leasing models distinguish the two contract agreements, however, the court has an opportunity to save substantially more money with one of the two bids.

The court moved to postpone taking any action on the scanning recording and indexing system upgrades. A discussion and possible action will continue at the next meeting.

Caldwell County Judge-Executive Larry Curling said the court hopes to have the Pennyrile Rural Electric contract ready for the next meeting in October.

He added the court has not met with Kenergy to discuss the cooperative agreement to bring high-speed internet to rural Caldwell County residents.

Both Pennyrile Rural Electric and Kenergy are working with the Caldwell County Fiscal Court to execute and carry out high-speed internet infrastructure plans for rural, disadvantaged residents.

Curling noted he is in the process of acquiring a new cooling unit for the courthouse — worth upwards of a quarter of a million dollars. He said the unit’s industrial technology is outdated and has become inefficient.