By David Helms/Pontotoc Progress
PONTOTOC – The Pontotoc Board of Aldermen last week voted unanimously to proceed with steps aimed at gaining final approval for the proposed redistricting plan for the city’s four alderman wards.
Aldermen set a public hearing for Thursday night, October 25, at 6 p.m. in the board room for questions pertaining to the proposed ward redistricting plan.
Following each 10 year U.S. Census, municipalities are mandated to review ward boundary lines, as they pertain to population changes, to make sure they comply with federal voting guidelines.
The 2010 U.S. Census set the city of Pontotoc’s census at 5,625, compared to 5,253 following the 2000 census.
Three Rivers Planning and Development District in Pontotoc prepared the city’s redistricting plan free of charge.
The project was headed by Kurt Brummett, Three Rivers Research and Development Director.
“The first thing you have to look at with redistricting is to make sure the difference between the population of the largest and smallest wards doesn’t exceed 10 percent, so that the city meets the Department of Justice’s one man, one vote principal,” Brummett said.
Brummett explained that the four ward average population of 1,406 was used as an “ideal target number of each ward” for the redistricting plan.
“If the deviation percentage (from the four ward average) between the largest and smallest wards exceeds the 10 percent benchmark, the city is required to re-draw ward boundaries,” Brummett explained.
According to the latest 2010 census figures, the city of Pontotoc’s ward population totals showed:
-Ward Two- 1,319;
-Ward Three- 1,561;
-and Ward Four- 1,177.
“Those new figures gave the city a deviation of 27.8 percent,” Brummett said.
“The new proposed ward plan lowers the city’s deviation to 4.76 percent, well within that 10 percent benchmark,” he said.
Ward lines were altered in the proposed redistricting plan to include the following population totals:
-Ward One- 1,368;
-Ward Four- 1,417.
“This plan meets the one-man, one vote requirement, and also does not dilute the minority voting strength, which is another required criteria,” Brummett said.
Following the October 25 public hearing, aldermen will vote whether to submit the plan to the Justice Department for final approval.
Brummett said the Justice Department has 60 days to review and approve the plan.
“We usually get a response within 45 days, which would be well prior to the January 1, 2013, start of qualifying for the next city election,” he said.