Commissioners still wrestling with redistricting situation

The McCulloch County Commissioners wrestled with some important issues in another marathon five-hour meeting on Monday. At the meeting several issues were discussed and acted on and commissioners mulled finances in a one hour budget workshop. The lion’s share of meeting time, however, was devoted to the discussion of whether or not to redraw county commissioners precinct lines. Recent census numbers indicated that the county is barely within the 10 percent allowable variation between precincts and, thus, is not mandated to perform a complete redistricting submission to the Department of Justice until the next census. The Citizens Redistricting Advisory Committee previously advised the court that it believed that it would be in the best interest of the county that a complete redistricting not be attempted. Subsequent to the committee ruling it was noted that, because some unusual circumstances in the last redistricting and after taking office, Precinct 1 Commissioner Joe Johnson’s residence was no longer in Precinct 1. McCulloch County submitted its last redistricting plan in 1991, but the plan was challenged in court. The lawsuit timing forced McCulloch County to hold elections under the old plan in which County Commissioner Johnson was solidly located in Precinct 1. After Johnson won the Precinct 1 race in 1992, and took office in 1993, the federal court case was settled and part of the settlement was a compromise redistricting plan that drew Johnson’s residence out of his precinct by approximately 50 feet. Previous census tract maps were not accurate enough to discern exactly where the lines were until lawyers hired by the county made the discovery using sophisticated computerized digital mapping programs. Commissioners finally voted Monday to have their attorneys submit a plan that includes only one change’moving the census block that Commissioner Johnson resides in (along with about 7 other citizens) from Precinct 3 to Precinct 1. The change slightly improves the distribution variation because Precinct 3 contains a few too many people and Precinct 1 needs additional population. The Court is planning a public meeting next Monday, July 30 to receive input from the public and from the Citizens Redistricting Advisory Committee on the proposed submission. Attorneys for the County will make the submission at no additional costs to the County. In other business, the commissioners approved making application to the G.R. White Trust for funds to help build a 4-H and Extension Service multi-use building, named Judge Randy Young to act in the county’s behalf in the West Texas Rural Counties Insurance pool mediation, approved current year budget corrections, and approve the purchase of a replacement tv/vcr for use in the district courtroom. This week’s meeting followed two special meetings held last week. At last Tuesday’s meeting commissioners heard budget requests from elected officials and department heads and then conducted a budget workshop. The meeting lasted seven hours. Last Friday, commissioners met with representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation and the City of Brady to do some long-term planning for off-system bridge and road updating. Local officials were also afforded the opportunity to give input on future project applications that TxDOT may undertake in McCulloch county

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