Peculiar city officials will be seeking a recount of ballots from the proposed 1-cent motor fuel tax question after it failed by a half percent.
The question that would give the city additional funds for street improvements required supermajority approval, or 66.67 percent of the votes, to pass. Of the 745 voters who came to the polls on April 8, 66.17 percent of voters, or 493 votes, approved the tax.
Only a handful of votes would have reversed the outcome.
The decision to file a petition within the Cass County Circuit Court for a recount was made April 21 during a regular board of aldermen meeting.
After city leaders failed to certify election results for the fuel tax question provided by County Clerk Janet Burlingame earlier in the meeting, the issue spurred a spirited discussion among the aldermen and city leadership.
City Clerk Nick Jacobs shared with aldermen about the four options they have in moving forward.
The first option, he said, would be to file a petition in the Circuit Court for a recount since the difference was less than one percent. The cost to petition would cost the city $127 and Burlingame must have a court order to do the recount.
The second option would be to seek judgement in Circuit Court in attempt to get a recount and to possibly have the county pay for another election due to voting irregularities that were discovered.
“If this is a case of voting irregularity, I am all for filing in the court,” Ward 2 Alderman Donald Turner said.
The city reported that were notified by two members of the public who reside inside the city and were in favor of the tax who were given county ballots because the county had them registered as being rural residents. The two individuals were not allowed to submit a provisional ballot because the voter registered was listed as rural.
“It was a mistake on Cass County’s part for having them listed wrong,” Jacobs said. “If there were two people, there could be more.”
City leaders also reported that they had heard of issues among citizens that the electronic ballot counting system was having issues in accepting the ballots into the machine.
City Attorney Reid Holbrook said it would be difficult to convince the court to side in their favor.
“I think it’s an uphill battle,” Holbrook said.
A third option would be to petition the court to render a decision on the issue; and the final option would be making the choice of doing nothing other than simply accepting the county’s results that the question had failed.
Moments after being sworn-in as mayor, Holly Stark appeared to not be in favor of challenging the issue.
“I ... spoke with several former county commissioners who said they’ve had recount issues with these machines, but they have never been able to overturn a single thing on a recount,” Stark said.
During the lengthy discussion, an idea was spurred to put the question back on the ballot for a fifth time during the August primary election.
The last time the issue was on the ballot in 2012, 60 percent of voters supported the tax - up from 57 percent in 2010, and nearly 44 percent in 2009.
“Let’s run it again. We just got to educate better to the tune of four votes,” newly-appointed Ward 2 Alderman Patrick Roberts said.
By the end of the night, the board eventually came to a decision to file a petition to the Circuit Judge for a recount. If the recount does not change the result of the election, the board said they will likely consider putting the question back on the ballot in the summer.