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San Dieguito factors special election costs into proposed budget

ENCINITAS — The San Dieguito Union High School District is projecting an ending balance of over $13 million at the end of the fiscal year in its proposed budget, which includes the cost of a special election for Trustee Area 5.

Late last week the provisional appointment of Ty Humes was officially declared void after signatures on a petition calling for a special election for the seat were verified by the county superintendent of schools.

Opponents of the special election have pointed to the cost as the main factor behind their opposition.

“The information we got from the Registrar of Voters was that the high could be $650,000 so that’s what we’ve put in the budget,” said Tina Douglas, associate superintendent of business services.

The Registrar of Voters has not been completely clear with the numbers they projected, telling The Coast News they provided San Dieguito a projection of $300,000 to $500,000 for an all-mail election for the 26,610 registered voters of Area 5.

There is also the possibility of a second election in the district for the recall of Trustee Michael Allman but there is even less clarity about how much that election would cost the district.

“If there is a second one we’d have to see if that would cost the same; I don’t know. And that would be something that we would have to add to the budget,” Douglas said. “But hopefully it won’t cost us the $650,000 and there may be some savings leftover that we can apply but we don’t know yet what the actual costs are going to be.”

The true cost of the election won’t be fully known until after the election when the registrar will send an invoice to the district for payment, according to the school district.

Duncan Brown, president of the San Dieguito Faculty Association who has supported both the petition in Area 5 and the recall of Trustee Michael Allman, acknowledges the cost of special elections is not small, but he believes that San Dieguito’s budget is large enough to accommodate added costs.

Brown uses the figure of $450,000 as a middle ground between the projections of the cost of the election.

“I don’t want to undermine the fact that $450,000 is a lot of money,” Brown told The Coast News. “However, it is a budget of over $160 million and when they are looking at updating the district office at $7 million, updating a pool at $11 million, there is money there.”

In fact, according to the school district, there is a chance that even if the recall election does take place on top of the election for the seat in Area 5, there is a chance that it could have little-to-no impact on the budget as currently proposed.

“We know that there will be money that is not spent at the end of this year. So there could be some money that drops to the ending fund balance that we could use towards that. So there may not be an additional impact if we do have some savings within the budget that we don’t end up spending,” Douglas said.

The school board has scheduled a special meeting for Wednesday night to consider the adoption of a resolution calling for an all-mail ballot election for Trustee Area 5 that the district says could save up to $150,000 in costs.