Redistricting plan approved by commission

Redistricting plan approved by commission
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
The Obion County Commission unanimously approved a revised reap-portionment/redistricting plan outlined Monday.
The commission was initially asked to consider adopting a plan at its Oct. 17 meeting, but the action was tabled after lengthy and sometimes heated dis-cussion.
The county’s reapportion-ment committee met again Oct. 24 to reconsider the plan and unanimously adopted a modified plan which apparently meets all requirements to keep numbers balanced, keep districts as compact as possible and protect the minority vote as required by law.
The Obion County Budget Committee viewed the modified plan at its session two weeks ago and sent it to the full county commission for consideration at its November session, held Monday morning at the Obion County Courthouse.
Reapportionment com-mittee chairman and county commissioner Donnie Bras-well said the committee took two plans which had been devised and, with the help of County Technical Assistance Service county government consultant Mike Galey, modified them into the revised plan presented Monday. He said it was difficult to make everything balance and keep all the requirements, but the committee was able to devise a plan which meets requirements and balances the county’s districts.
There are still seven districts in Obion County.
Galey used a computer program as he made a brief presentation to highlight some aspects of the modified new voting boundaries were shaped. He said there were no modifications to District 5, while District 6 gained 73 people on the north side of the district. District 4 ended up with a minority representation of 36.05 percent.
In addition, Union City contains portions of only three districts — Districts 2, 4 and 7 — and District 3 is no longer in Union City. District 2 gained 155 people from District 4’s northeast corner and 78 people from District 3. The modified plan gave 605 people to District 7.
Galey explained there was “a domino effect” as the committee worked to devise a balanced plan as required by law. He said those involved tried to affect the least amount of people and he believes they accomplished that goal.
“I think you’ve got a good plan here,” he said.
Braswell had made the motion to accept the modified plan and it was approved by a 21-0 vote. All county commissioners were present at the session.
Both federal and state law mandate reapportionment and redistricting. Reapportionment refers to the allocation of political seats among units and is most commonly used in reference to the distribution of congressional seats among the 50 states, while redistricting refers to the delineation of boundaries for political units, such as state legislative and county commission districts.
The redistricting is done every 10 years based on the most recent census and the state’s county governments are required by law to redistrict by Jan. 1, 2012.
In a related matter, the commission also approved a motion by Braswell to leave the number of school board members and highway commissioners “as is.” The representatives currently serving will remain in place until the next scheduled election.
The approved redistricting plan eliminates both the county school board member in District 7 and the highway commissioner in District 3. They will serve out their current terms and will be eligible to run in the districts in which they reside after the redistricting change.
The action also prompted a question from commissioner Jerry Grady in regard to how county constables are elected and their districts. Commissioner Danny Jowers said it needs to be addressed and Obion County Benny McGuire was asked to do research and report back to the commission in January. Administrator of elections Leigh Schlager noted constables are up for re-election next year.
Other action
In other action during Monday’s hour-long meeting, which was opened with prayer led by the Rev. Stan Waldon, pastor of Union City First United Methodist Church, and with the Pledge of Allegiance, the commission:
• Approved a debt management policy for Obion County as presented by the finance committee.
Commissioner Tim Doyle, chairman of the finance committee, said the committee devised a policy which is as lenient as possible and said the county has basically been doing what is required all along but now has something on paper. Galey said the state-mandated policy is meant to protect the county, also adding that the county is already meeting most of the minimum requirements.
• Received a report on the county’s Indigent Care Trust Fund from board member and county commissioner Richard Arnold. No action was required.
• Approved resolutions authorizing the county clerk to collect motor vehicle regulatory fees imposed by the towns of Troy and Obion.
• Approved a resolution authorizing the sale of delinquent tax properties to the City of Union City for $1 each. Obion County acquired the six tracts of land at a delinquent tax sale.
• Approved a resolution amending the fiscal year budget for the Obion County Highway Department by $60,000 to reflect an increase in revenue for the wheel tax line item. It was explained that it was underestimated on a five-year average.
The discussion pertaining to the highway department prompted the commission to approve a motion from Braswell that all proceeds from surplus auctions from all county departments go back to the county General Fund and be dispersed by regular annual budget, pending research or discovery of a law that says this cannot be done. Galey offered to prepare information on the department’s five-year average and also research what is appropriate for the sale of equipment.
McGuire said a surplus auction Saturday generated $101,000, but he noted that in addition to highway department equipment, the sheriff’s department had three vehicles and there was some courthouse equipment included in the sale.
• Authorized reappointments to the Everett-Stewart Regional Airport board (commissioner Jim Bondurant and Mike Holman) and the Obion County Fair Association board (Benny McGuire). An appointment to the Civil Service Board was tabled until the next meeting and it was noted that Ann McGuire no longer wishes to serve.
• Approved six notary public applications.
• Heard a brief update on the Cates Landing riverport project from Arnold.
• Was reminded the commission will not meet in December and will next convene in January.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 11.22.11

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