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Who's picking up the lunch tab in Jefferson County?

July 01, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A decision to serve lunch to about 155 poll workers in Jefferson County during a special state election last Saturday and charge the $1,952 bill to the county's voter registration fund led to a tense exchange of words Thursday between Jefferson County Clerk Jennifer Maghan and county officials.

Maghan, whose office oversees elections in the county, told the Jefferson County Commission that she wanted to offer lunch to the poll workers since it is difficult for them to leave their stations and because they must be there for about 16 hours.

Maghan said poll workers told her they were glad food was served to them because they could have "passed out" otherwise.

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Maghan arranged for the lunch to be prepared by Renaissance Refinishing, a food service company in Frederick, Md., and she wanted to pay for the meals using money from the county's voter registration fund.

The fund contains money from people who purchase voter registration lists from the county clerk's office, Maghan said.

Maghan said she talked to Paul Shroyer, an audit inspector for the state auditor's office, who said state law does not prohibit paying for the meal with money from the voter registration fund.

Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober would not sign off on the check to pay for the meals from the fund, which led to Maghan's appearance before the county commission Thursday morning to discuss the issue.

Boober had to sign the check in addition to Maghan because he is also the county treasurer.

Boober told the commission that Shroyer told him that the meals could not be paid with money from the voter registration fund or any county funds. Boober said after the meeting that Shroyer told him that charging the meals to the voter registration fund was "not a reasonable or necessary cost" and that the fund was only to be used to pay for expenses such as equipment.

Boober told the commissioners he did not want to sign the check over for concern that he could be "party to something possibly illegal."

Maghan expressed frustration over the issue, especially in light of the way the state auditor field agent explained the situation to her.

"It just doesn't add up," Maghan said.

Commission members Dale Manuel and Greg Corliss said they would rather see poll workers be paid more money as a way of compensating them for their time. The commission agreed to ask its attorney for a legal opinion on how the meals could be paid.

During the discussion, a staff member of Maghan's recorded the conversation between Maghan and the county commission.

Commission member Jane Tabb remarked about the worker recording the meeting and commented that the person was doing it on county time.

"He works for me," said Maghan.

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