JS looks at combining voter precincts


Special For The Express

JERSEY SHORE — Jersey Shore may have fewer voting precincts in 2020 to comply with a state government mandate to upgrade all voting machines, a nearly $1 billion dollar project.

In anticipation of that mandate, borough council on Monday discussed having a representative of the Lycoming County Voter Services office to talk about the issue at council’s November meeting.

“He would like to have 1,200 voters at a minimum at each ward. Currently Jersey Shore has 500 voters max at each of the precincts,” said Joseph Hamm, borough manager.

Under consideration is reducing borough wards from four to two, Hamm said.

“The only thing that bothers me is that we don’t have many people in the borough who turn out to vote and if they have to go to one or two places in the whole borough, I’m afraid no one is going to vote,” said Councilwoman Barb Schouder.

Hardly anybody goes to the second Ward, she added.

Councilwoman Marguerite Dyroff said having fewer voting precincts would mean a larger area to draw for a committee and it would produce a broader base.

“I think we ought to hear what he has to say,” she said.

If the council decided it wanted to keep four wards, the option would be open.

“It’s all down to ordinance,” said Councilman Matthew Haag.

Councilman Sean Simcox remained skeptical.

“The only reasons he’s approaching us about this is not to make our borough government more effective or more efficient, it’s to save the county money. That’s the driving force of this,” he said.

Council agreed to have the representative in to hear him out.

In other business, council reviewed a letter from the borough recreation committee.

“The last three to five years, they put a big emphasis on the fence around the borough. So over those years a lot of things have come and a lot of things have gone,” Hamm said.

He referenced a movie night and family game night, both of which were unsuccessful in bringing significant attendance from the community.

“So what they’re saying is, they think they can do more for the borough. What they’d like to do is transition a little bit from being so much event oriented and maybe take a look at helping us secure grants to do these projects around the borough,” he said.

The recreation committee will continue to put on well-attended events, Hamm said, such as Christmas in July and the bike fair.

With money in short supply, Jersey Shore is in need of grants to pay for pedestrian crossing signals and police station repairs.

Simcox said the borough did not receive a grant it sought to fund a new police station.

“That was somewhat disappointing but not completely unexpected as the priorities lay elsewhere with those funds, regarding the dike project out in Williamsport and elsewhere,” said Simcox.