AP NEWS

Bill for school referendum totals $71,219

April 14, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence One Schools received a $71,219 bill from the Florence County Voter Registration and Election Commission for the Feb. 26 referendum.

The $71,219 bill is for expenses such as paying the temporary workers, printing ballots and postage for absentee ballots and applications.

Florence One Schools Superintendent Richard O’Malley said he was surprised at how much the referendum cost the district because in districts he has worked in prior to Florence One, referendums have only cost around $45,000.

“That may be normal in an election and that be what people expect,” O’Malley said. “It might be that everything there (in the bill) might be what is normal; it’s just to me that seems awfully high. It’s probably more of a lack of my knowledge and the district hasn’t had one in such a quite a while that it might be normal. I just don’t know what normal looks like.”

The district will pay for the referendum using money from the general fund. O’Malley said the payment for the referendum won’t affect any academic programming.

“Although the budget is set, we do have some cost savings in some places,” O’Malley said. “Obviously some things cost less and some things cost more. We would take it from some places we have seen cost savings.”

David Alford, director of the Florence County Voter Registration and Elections Commission, said the district will have 30 to 60 days to pay the bill for the referendum.

O’Malley said he isn’t sure how much referendums have cost the district in the past because the last one was in 2008. He said it is just a part of the process to get the public’s opinion.

“I don’t think you do a value added to that,” O’Malley said. “It’s a process that has been set up by the legislature: You have to go to the public, and so in order to have an election, you have to pay the cost.”

O’Malley also said the cost should not be a deterrent to holding a future referendum.

“If the board decides there’s a need and the need is to go to the public and hear their opinion, that’s the process and the only way to do it is pay for it this way,” he said.