UPDATE: JC officials pass first reading to change election dates - WRBL

UPDATE: JC officials pass first reading to change election dates to save 75K every other year

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) - UPDATE: Johnson City commissioners passed the first reading Thursday night to give voters the option to vote on moving the election date to vote on city officials from April to November. This would save the city an estimated 75,000 dollars. 

As city officials work on a balanced budget in Johnson City, they're also looking into changing when you vote for your city commissioners and school board members.

As of last year's April election there were just over 38,000 Johnson City registered voters, but only 4,400 people actually voted. 2011 was a very similar story. For every election the city holds they also pay for it.

Jonesborough is doing something similar and it seems to be working. They are holding elections for those elected spots in November and according to the Washington County, Tennessee Election Commission they are seeing a higher voter turnout because of it.

As long as Johnson City Commissioner David Tomita can remember, we have always had a municipal election in April.

"The cost has gone up and the participation has gone down, so the cost per voter has gone up considerably," he said.

Because of that, a new ordinance is being presented this week. It would change that election date from April to November, coinciding with the state elections.

"If you change the election date into August or into November it increases voter participation," said Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin.

According to Tomita, some elected officials have already voiced their opinion on the ordinance .

"Races may get lost amongst presidential, but I would argue they're lost now," said Tomita.

They're lost now because of the voter turn out, with only 11% of registered voters going to the polls in April of 2013.

Van Brocklin said it's also going to save the city money, because it would eliminate an election that's held separately.

"We do know there will be a $75,000 savings to the budget every other year," said Van Brocklin.

Some Johnson City voters agree with the proposed ordinance.

"I like it that they're trying to save money," said Timothy Vassalotti. "I would think that more people would show up in November than in April."

Registered voter Paul Bashor said, "it's just one more check mark that I can put on the ballot and make things easier."

Both Van Brocklin and Tomita said they believe the ordinance will pass. If it does, the current Johnson City commissioners and school board members would have their terms extended for another year and half.

The first reading of the ordinance is happening this week. The second one will be held in July, there you can go say how you feel about it. You can also say how you feel about it by voting in November.


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