Voters have kept up a steady march through the Ellis County Clerk’s Office for early voting at the Ellis County Administrative Center, 718 Main St.
“It’s been very busy in our office and it’s been exciting to see all the people get out and vote,” said Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus, speaking Monday evening to the Ellis County Commissioners at their regularly scheduled Monday meeting in the administrative center.
“We had 266 on Friday. It was a busy place,” Maskus said of the county’s early voting turnout for the general election. “We’ve done it for two weeks now, and we’ve averaged close to 200 a day in the office.”
In person, there were 2,137 voters that came in the office and voted, she said. The office also mailed out 884 ballots.
“So that’s a total of 3,021 that have voted already or requested a ballot,” Maskus said. “And that’s around 17 percent.”
The county has 17,897 qualified voters.
“I’m very proud that everybody is getting out and voting, and I’m hoping that tomorrow it’s going to be busy and that the rest of the qualified voters will get out and vote,” Maskus said.
That’s not the only thing keeping the office busy. Maskus’ employees also are preparing tax roll information to hand-off to the Ellis County Treasurer.
The timing of the tax roll information became a publicized issue after Ellis County Treasurer Lisa Schlegel announced last year and again this year that Maskus’ office is holding up delivery of the annual tax statements to residents. Schlegel, whose new in the Treasurer’s office, said Maskus is being tardy with information, violating a state mandated Nov. 1 deadline. Maskus, and other county clerk’s in the state, say the deadline is routinely missed because counties rely on tax information from many local and state taxing entities who are likewise tardy with the data.
“We have worked hard on the tax roll,” Maskus said. “Things are not going as perfect as I wanted them to.…There was one item that didn’t get taken care of, and that came back to haunt us this year. It has been corrected. I want to assure the taxpayers of Ellis County that we work hard. It’s got to be correct when it goes out.”
Maskus emphasized again what she has said previously, that local taxing entities rely on the tax statements to deliver the annual funding for their budgets, making it critical the tax statements are prepared with accurate data.
“We have to make sure that that levy makes enough dollars of their budget they requested,” Maskus said. “And of course there are other counties involved, other school districts, it is not an easy process. And it’s a process that we take very seriously.”
Maskus said her office will now work with the state’s office of Property Valuation to finalize the tax data.
Asked by County Commission Chairman Dean Haselhorst if the process is about a week away from completion, Maskus said it’s hard to say, but that her office will keep at it.
“I know you will,” Haselhorst said. “You’re doing a great job, no problem.”
In other business, the commissioners approved a three-year contract with Nex-Tech for cloud backup as the county’s backup disaster recovery plan. Previously the county has relied on its own servers and equipment. The commissioners approved an upfront payment of $98,160 for the contract, saving the county about $30,000.