Commission continues review of district re-apportionment

VIRGINA CITY – Madison County Commissioners continued to discuss commission district re-apportionment at their Tuesday meeting.
Commissioners met with information technology director Karen Brown to go over maps of the proposed changes to the commission district boundaries.

Commissioners are required to apportion the county commission districts so they are as compact and equal in size and population as possible, and they must be within five percent of each other.

Commissioner Dave Schulz explained that the reapportionment is a slow process that requires substantial consideration to the county’s geography. The solution is not as simple as drawing a line through the middle of a map, especially when areas of higher population densities are interspersed with the numerous mountain ranges throughout the region. The objective is to make the districts as close to equal as possible with the least impact to the population.

In some cases the districts may be adjusted where there are literally no county residents to account for acreage. In other cases county residents may be shifted to a different commission district to account for population. Once the board of commissioners approves the changes to districts the proposal will go before District Court Judge Loren Tucker for final approval.

Notable changes to the commission districts include the addition of the Stone Creek area in the Ruby Valley into District One, which is represented by Schulz and the Shining Mountains Subdivisions One and Two in the Madison Valley from District Three – which is represented by Commissioner Jim Hart – into District One.

The current figures for the district reapportionment are derived from the 2010 Census Block Data. The total population for Madison County is 7,691 and the total acreage is 2,305,300, and the optimal size for the districts is 2,564 residents and 768,433 acres.

The proposed reapportionment for District One has 2,537 county residents (33 percent) and 776,929 acres (34 percent). District Two would have 2,382 residents (31 percent) and 754,138 acres (33 percent) while District Three would have 2,777 residents (36 percent) and 774,233 (34 percent).

Schulz emphasized that the changes to the districts are only for voting purposes. Brown agreed to review the proposal with the county attorneys to come up with a legal definition for the revised boundaries of the districts before the board takes action on it at 1 p.m. during their regular meeting next week.

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