Council approves registrar move

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, August 20, 2009

The public was silent during the time set aside Wednesday for comment on the proposed move of the Voter Registrar’s Office.

Not one spoke for or against moving the office, which also serves as the central absentee polling precinct for the city. The U.S. Department of Justice still must approve the relocation.

In June, the council received public comment on a relocation of the office, currently located at 425 W. Washington St., to the municipal building at 441 Market St. Since that time, however, the city identified another possible location at the former Human Resources Building, 440 Market St., just across the road and a city parking lot from city hall.

The move represents part of an effort by Suffolk to move offices from leased space into city-owned property. A handful of leases recently terminated will save the city about $159,000 annually, Budget Officer Anne Seward said last month.

The current lease for the registrar’s office and storage of voting machines costs the city $65,000 a year, in addition to about $10,000 a year for maintenance on the space, Gerry Jones, director of capital buildings and programs for the city, said Wednesday.

In addition, the space is inadequate for some of its functions — voters were lined up around the building to cast absentee ballots in last November’s elections.

The local Electoral Board agrees that the old Human Resources building would be the preferred location, Jones added. The lease at the current location expires Nov. 30, which will carry the office through the Nov. 3 state and local elections.

The Justice Department will be considering accessibility to the public and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as federal requirements, Jones said. City staffers believe the location meets the Justice Department’s criteria.

After the public hearing concluded, council voted unanimously to amend the city code to reflect the proposed move.