With the state contract for Kentucky’s voting system expiring May 10, county clerks across the state are racing to replace the current hardware used for election day check-in. The urgency arises from the 2023 primary to be held by on May 16.
Webster County Clerk Valerie Newell asked for a resolution from fiscal court Monday to negotiate a new contract and purchase the tablets her office use at each polling site. Typically, those two actions are spaced apart, and are approved in separate votes in meetings weeks or months apart.
The short window between now and the primary election, however, has put Newell in the position of needing to finalize the deal quickly.
The tablets to be purchased come from knowink Innovative Election Services, a company located in St. Louis. Newell told the court the business partners with Harp Enterprises of Lexington, which produces the voting machines used by Webster County.
knowink provided two quotes on 18 tablets, one with wireless capabilities through Verizon and one without. With wireless the total charge would be $31,535, while the county would pay $30,725 without. The amount will be reimbursed 100% by the state, Newell said.
Each tablet will cost $1,700 on its own, as each comes loaded with the necessary software. The pad and activation of the polling service is an annual charge.
Newell asked the court for permission to seek a five-year contract to lock in the current price. After a brief discussion, magistrates allowed her to negotiate for a four-year agreement.
It has long been policy of Webster County to not enter into a contract longer than the current elected term. The practice prevents potentially new officials from being tied to contracts that may not be beneficial for their administrations.
County Attorney Clint Prow said there is no prohibition to agreements longer than the current term, but it is still a good practice.
More from this section
The equipment and services from knowink did not have to be bid as they fall under the state’s professional services exemption.
In other business the court:
Approved agreements with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for work on Noble Crowley Road and Granny Hill Road. The cost of the projects are $15,670 and $3,795, respectively. The county is responsible for 20% of the final cost of both.
Approved a resolution to enter into an agreement with Hager, the architectural design firm that will complete plans for renovations and additions to the Webster County Senior Center.
Agreed to advertise for bids on a total of eight shelters and the concrete slab foundations at the new county park. One shelter will be 30-feet by 60-feet with a slab measuring 35-feet by 64-feet; seven additional shelters will measure 16-feet by 20-feet with foundations of 20-feet by 24-feet. Bids are due by 9 a.m. on Feb. 27 at the courthouse. They will be opened at that day’s fiscal court meeting.
Appointed Chris Cates to a 3-year term on the Webster County Water District board of directors. He replaced Charles Buchanan who did not seek a new term.
Approved the hiring of Jennifer Jones at the jail as part-time at a rate of $14 per hour.
The court entered closed session to discuss personnel, but had nothing to report.