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How Much Will Your Community Pay for the Recall?

Municipalities across the state have submitted an estimated price tag for holding a special election if the recall effort moves forward.

How Much Will Your Community Pay for the Recall?

Freedom isn’t free, and neither are recalls.

On Tuesday, organizers for the recall effort against Gov. Scott Walker submitted more on petitions. That's a ton of signatures, not figuratively, but quite literally 2,000 pounds of stacked paper in document boxes were delivered via a small moving van and unloaded by a team of volunteers outside the Government Accountability Board offices in Madison.

A statewide recall election of the governor and as much as $17 million with a primary, according to numbers released by the GAB on Jan. 6.

How does that break down locally?

Depending on the community you live in, the total cost for the election could amount to the price tag of a weeklong tour in Europe, or match the sticker price of a nicely-equipped luxury vehicle.

In Menomonee Falls, the $37,000 total for an election could cover the village's cost for plowing and salting the roughly 200 miles of roadway after a snowstorm. On average, it cost the village $23,850 , according to data from DPW Director Arlyn Johnson.

The approximately $35,000 cost in Brookfield is roughly the same as the entire amount budgeted for materials and supplies in Brookfield's Park and Recreation Department. In Sussex, $5,000 is more than enough to cover the village's weed control operation, which costs $3,500 annually.

The GAB asked counties and municipalities to estimate months ago online detailing the total cost of holding a recall election based on November 2010 and April 2011 election costs. According to the survey results, the statewide estimated costs for the election broke down as follows:

  • Counties: approximately $2.3 million
  • Municipalities: approximately $5.8 million
  • GAB: approximately $840,000
  • Total: approximately $9 million (not including a possible primary)

In an effort to reveal the local share of that $5.8 million cost to municipalities, Patch.com contacted clerks in Patch communities to see the economic impact of the recall in your backyard. However, the total municipal costs do not include the price tag of a primary, throw his or her name in the ring to run against Walker.

Here are the costs estimates for a recall election complied GAB reports and local clerks:

MunicipalityTotal Estimated CostWauwatosa           $42,220 City of Brookfield           $34,885 Menomonee Falls           $37,000 Shorewood           $22,137 Whitefish Bay           $12,000 Fox Point           $11,000 Bayside            $4,000 Town of Brookfield            $3,761 Sussex            $5,000 Port Washington           $10,000 Saukville            $3,362Total         $185,365

Wauwatosa City Clerk Carla Ledesma reported to the GAB that the cost of holding recall elections would be $42,220 if she has to purchase an additional set of memory cards for electronic voting machines, at $9,520. Without that expense, the cost would be $32,700.

Menomonee Falls Village Clerk Janice Moyer said municpal costs are also dependent on the turnout, which she said is difficult to predict. Municipalities shoulder costs associated with poll worker wages, staff wages for processing ballots, postage for absentee ballots and rental fees for polling locations.

The county covers the cost for ballots and programming. According to reports submitted to the GAB, Waukesha County's cost, excluding costs fromeach municipality, would total $111,730 for an election. Milwaukee County estimated its costs at $203,800 for an individual recall election. The total cost in Ozaukee County would tally $30,591.

If a primary is required, the total costs would likely double.

Clerks offices throughout the state are becoming one of the busier locations inside government buildings. Municipalities across the state are not only holding additional elections, but also are working through redistricting and training poll workers about the new laws and regulations dictating elections.

Despite the added responsibilities, Moyer said her staff in Menomonee Falls remains on task.

“We already handled the recalls last year so we have dealt with the new laws and we will be ready to go. All the poll workers will be,” Moyer said.

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