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Towns to be reimbursed for state special votes

Greenfield will get nearly $14,000, Montague will receive more than $7,500, and altogether, Franklin County towns are slated to collect almost $75,000 from the state as a reimbursement for this year’s special state election to fill the U.S. vacancy left by John Kerry.

State Auditor Suzanne Bump has ruled that the April 30 primary election and June 25 special election that resulted in the election of Democrat Edward Markey to fill Kerry’s seat were unfunded mandates that cost cities and towns more than $7.2 million, and this week she sent a letter to Secretary of State William Galvin certifying the cost, based on a survey of all municipalities.

A letter containing Auditor Bump’s cost certification has been sent to Secretary of State William Galvin, who will administer the reimbursements.

In 2009, then-state Auditor Joseph DeNucci ruled that the state must reimburse cities and towns for costs associated with the special election and special primary election to choose a successor for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, based on a 1980 Local Mandate Law requiring any post-1980 state law or regulation that imposes additional costs on any municipality.

“Conducting statewide elections are essential, but costly burdens on our local communities. It is now time for the state to hold up its end of the deal,” Bump said. “As in the past, I know Secretary of State Galvin, Governor Patrick, and the Legislature will give municipalities their full support.”

The reimbursements require a legislative appropriation signed by the governor.

In a cost-saving change, 2013 legislation allowed communities to hold their local elections on the same day as either the state primary or general election. A survey found that 110 communities took advantage of the new law, leading to a savings of more than a half a million dollars from the $7.8 million spent for the 2010 US Senate special election.

“It’s helpful,” Greenfield Finance Director Marjorie Lane Kelly said of the $13,964 would receive. “If it were a local election, we wouldn’t receive anything.”

Greenfield was among the towns that held its annual town election on June 25 to consolidate costs associated with the balloting and vote counts, said Greenfield Town Clerk Maureen Winseck.

Statewide, special election costs ranged from $234 for Tyringham in Berskshire County to $970,398 for Boston.

You can reach Richie Davis at:
rdavis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, Ext. 269

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