LIVERMORE -- City leaders could ask voters in November to switch the city's long-standing odd-year election cycle to an even-year format to save money and boost turnout.
The city council is expected to vote Monday to place an initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot that will ask voters to switch Livermore's election cycle to even years, and if they support an immediate change or a one at a later date. The city estimates the switch could save the city $300,000 per municipal election.
If the initiative first receives support from the council and then voters it could also extend the current term of Mayor John Marchand and the rest of the council by an additional year.
Marchand, Vice Mayor Doug Horner and councilman Bob Woerner, who was appointed in December to Marchand's vacant seat, all have terms that expire in 2013. The seats of council members Laureen Turner and Stewart Gary, who both won four-year terms in November, expire in 2015.
"There may be some that think I have ulterior motives, but that is not the case" Marchand said. "My main concern is saving money."
Livermore voters decided in 1982 to switch its municipal election from April of even years to November of odd years to save money and help spark voter turnout, according to published reports from that year. Former city clerk Dorothy Hock, former Mayor John Shirley and Helen Dentici, a local businesswoman, supported the switch at that time, saying the move would lower the city's
State law allowed council elections to be consolidated with school board elections, which were held in November back then. Measure A, as it was known, passed by a 3-to-1 margin with 4,434 voting yes and 1,439 voting against it.
Marchand introduced the idea to the current council at the July 9 meeting after noticing during the budget review that the cost to taxpayers for the 2011 elections was $275,276 and that future costs were expect to exceed $300,000.
"That is a breath taking sum of money to have an election on an odd year," said Marchand. "It is a significant amount (of money) that could add two more police officers or support the Springtown Library."
Changing the election to an even year, when more cities and agencies hold their voting, would allow Livermore to share the expenses with more entitities -- bring down the cost.
The current budget crisis, which slashed Livermore's budget by nearly 10 percent from $85 million in 2008-2009 to $77 million this year, resulted in the loss of hours at the Springtown Library.
Election costs are spread among cities, school and special districts in the county and are set by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office.
According to a city staff report, the cost per registered voter hit an all-time high of $6.02 for the 2011 election in which just under 14,000 of Livermore's 446,000 registered voters cast a ballot. The cost was 88 percent higher than the 70 cents per registered voter it cost in 2008 when Livermore had 38,146 resident voting during the presidential race.
Turnout for the past two even-numbered years was over 60 percent compared to the odd years when turnout ranged from 28 percent in 2007 to 32 percent in 2011.
If voters approve the change, it would leave Emeryville, Newark and the Newark school district as the only jurisdictions in Alameda County that conduct their elections on odd years.
The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers, 3575 Pacific Ave. in Livermore.
Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/robjordan127.