The county has refunded $221,367 in what an audit says were election cost overcharges to cities and other local governments. The action was taken over the objections of County Elections Director Rich Chrismer, who disputes the findings and had refused for months to issue the refunds himself. County Finance Director Bob Schnur said Friday that the checks were mailed Tuesday. Chrismer was notified Wednesday. “This is the right thing to do,” said Schnur. Chrismer said he planned to take legal action to fight the county administration’s move, which was first requested by the County Council last summer. He says state law gives him control of the fund in question. “He took money out of the account,” Chrismer said of Schnur. “By law, he has no right to take it out.” Schnur disputed that, saying the money in question was collected in error and never should have been in the account.
The refunds cover elections held from 2008 through 2013. The Francis Howell School District got the biggest refund — $34,128. That was followed by St. Peters, $31,349; the County Ambulance District, $27,397; and the Wentzville School District, $26,179. More than two dozen other governments also got refunds.
Also this week, Schnur said, $517,000 was shifted from an account Chrismer controls to another county fund.
That covers most of what the audit said were the elections office’s overcharges of the county government itself for its share of election costs.