By Margie Plunkett
Election day in Ocean Ridge and Manalapan may find a permanent home on the second Tuesday in March if commissioners in each town follow through on preliminary approvals in November.
Most of the 38 cities in Palm Beach County hold municipal elections on that date, but Ocean Ridge, Manalapan, Palm Beach and Jupiter Inlet Colony are among those that don’t. Ocean Ridge’s last elections were the second Tuesday in February; Manalapan’s were the first Tuesday in March — each just a week apart from the uniform election date.
“If you wish to retain your date, you’ll be expected to pay all the costs of [Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher’s] staff,” Manalapan Town Attorney Trela White said during that commission’s last meeting. “I’m sure that the money crunch has caused part of this. Everybody’s looking for resources.”
Bucher gave the mavericks an incentive to come into line and do away with the “helter skelter” system by noting she’s considering charging for municipal elections, Ocean Ridge Mayor Ken Kaleel explained during his town’s commission meeting. “We’ve been in negotiations since on what those fees would be.”
If all municipalities had elections on the same day, it would spread the costs — and reduce them.
“It doesn’t look like it would be a huge expense. It’s going to be around $3,800,” Kaleel said. The supervisor of elections is under an obligation to do presidential elections, he said, so if Ocean Ridge wanted to be completely exempt it would follow the presidential election schedule to avoid any fees. The ordinance says that in years with presidential elections, Ocean Ridge can change its election day to be held at the same time as the presidential primaries.
Both sets of commissioners voted on the ordinance on first reading, and planned second public hearings and final votes for their December meetings.