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May 23, 2012

Redistricting on tap again for Jeffersonville

The city’s District 6 has many more people than any other district

JEFFERSONVILLE — Though they just did so last year, it’s already time for the Jeffersonville City Council to start thinking about redistricting again.

On Wednesday morning, the Jeffersonville Board of Public Works and Safety approved a time and materials contract, not to exceed $30,000, with engineering firm Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz. The firm will provide consulting on matters, such as population figures, as the council makes decisions on where political lines are drawn.

The council starting redrawing district lines in 2010 after a large annexation, which brought Oak Park and several other areas north and east of the old city limits into Jeffersonville. That attempt was met with legal action from some in the annexed area who disagreed with the city’s use of population figures from the 2000 Census in order to decide on where to draw district lines. Numbers from the 2010 Census were not available at the time.

The challenge had been based on the fact that the population data was 10 years old and therefore didn’t account for growth in the outskirts of the city. The result was a huge sixth district, which had a population that was disproportionally larger than all the other districts.

Challengers argued that the sixth district, which included Oak Park, was being under represented. The resulting federal lawsuit, which challenged the constitutionality of the redistricting, was ultimately dismissed and those embattled district lines were in place for last year’s municipal elections.

Another redistricting is required this year as the 2010 census figures have become available.

“We must redistrict. We have to do that this year,” Councilman Nathan Samuel said during recent meeting.

It’s not entirely in the council’s court, as Mayor Mike Moore will have to sign the redistricting ordinance as well.

Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz doesn’t so much make decisions on where to move the political lines but more so shows the council how line movements would affect population counts in each district, Samuel said. Under state law, there can’t be more than a 10 percent difference in population between districts.

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