The Fayette County commissioners voted to spend $1.4 million on state-mandated new voting machines that must be in place before the 2020 presidential primary election.
County Election Bureau Director Larry Blosser and financial consultant Sam Lynch on Thursday recommended buying the machines from Dominion Voting in New York. The purchase includes 90 scanners and 90 ADA-compliant units for the 77 precincts in the county.
Blosser said Dominion was picked out of the five companies interested in supplying Fayette County with voting machines as the company’s equipment had better resolution and top-quality software.
“I think that’s the best option that we have right now,” Blosser said.
The commissioners also had the option to lease the machines for eight years with an option to buy at the eighth year for $1.7 million.
Lynch said he and Blosser recommend the purchase option over the leasing option as purchasing will save the county an additional $318,418.
The purchase option includes maintenance on the machines for 10 years and a free software upgrade whenever needed.
Commissioner Dave Lohr said the free upgrades were an important factor to the commissioners, but the cost savings of over $300,000 made the choice a no brainer for him.
Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink said the state had cautioned commissioners about leasing the machines. While smaller payments seem inviting, counties would pay more.
Blosser and Lynch said the leasing option may have also excluded the county from receiving an estimated $130,000 in federal funds to use toward the machines. The federal funding combined with the state reimbursement could be a 60 percent reimbursement on the purchase, officials said.
Prior to the unanimous vote to buy the machines, Commissioner Vincent Vicites said the terms of the reimbursement and how much will be given to the counties is still unclear to commissioners throughout the commonwealth.
“We deserve reimbursement,” Vicites said. “If they don’t come through with this (reimbursement), it’s another unfunded mandate and not fair to counties.”
In other business, the commissioners unanimously voted to…
n Approve the agreement of sale purchase of a property along McClellandtown Road in Uniontown for $179,500 in connection with the construction of the new county prison. The purchase marked the last property the county needed for the new site at the former Army Reserve Center.
n Approve a contract with Cyril Wecht & Pathology Associates Inc. of Pittsburgh for forensic pathology services for a three-year period effective immediately.
n Approve a participation agreement with the Morgan Valley-Broadford Group in support of connecting the existing Coal and Coke Trail and the Scottdale Intercommunity Trail to the Yough River Trail and the Great Allegheny Passage.