By TIM HORAN
When it comes to realigning the three boundaries that make up the three districts in Dickinson County, the commissioners said they wanted “to start from scratch”.
A few new looks are what the commissioners reviewed at a work study last Thursday morning.
During its regular meeting later that morning, the commissioners said they now want input from the public.
“We did have some discussion of redistricting. We did agree to two maps that we are going to give consideration to,” Chairman
LaVerne Myers said at the meeting.
Those maps are published on the Dickinson County web page www.dkcoks.org/index.aspx?NID=628 and pictured here.
Kansas state law requires commissioners to review the districts’ populations and sizes each year and redistrict as needed. While the judicial system has not required Dickinson County to redistrict, the commissioners have been looking at new boundaries.
Without new districts, the current map could be considered unequal. District 1 has 5,911 people and 404 square miles; District 2 has 7,821 people and 36 square miles; and District 3 has 6,022 people and 411 square miles. The population difference between District 2 and District 1 is close to 2,000 (1,910).
The commission’s attorney, Doug Thompson, said in January that state law says that each commission will address the redistricting.
“How they do the redistricting is discretionary and previewed by the courts,” he said. “The failure to act can then cause a procedure where the court can mandate that you will act. How you act is discretionary.”
The issue heated up last year when the most popular map among the commissioners split istrict 2, which includes Abilene, the county’s largest populated area, into each of the three districts. This caused a protest among the rural residents as it left the possibility open for all three commissioners to live in the city of Abilene.
A motion to approve that map failed for a lack of a second.
After the election, the commission now has two new members, Lynn Peterson and Craig Chamberlin, who have joined Myers for another tackle of the district issue.
Prior to the work study session with county GIS Coordinator Sherry Massey and County Administrator Brad Homman Thursday, it was generally considered that any new map had to split up Abilene and add one of its three voting precincts to District 1 or 3. Voting precincts cannot be split.
Currently Grant Township makes up District 2. District 1 is made up of south Dickinson County and includes Herington and Enterprise. District 3 is north and included Chapman and Solomon.
The new boundaries map listed as Option 1 moves Buckeye into District 2 and the west Abilene voting district into District 3. Townships Garfield and Newbern join District 1. The greatest population discrepancy is 139, between District 2 and District 1.
Option 2 leaves the city of Abilene intact as District 2 but moves rural Grant Township into District 3. The greatest population discrepancy there is 384, again between District 2 and District 1.
A public hearing is scheduled for the March 28 meeting.
In other action at the regular meeting of the Dickinson County Commissioners Thursday, Homman said in his report the county is accepting bids for replacing the GIS server.
“It’s a 2007 vintage and we are having some issues with some of the applications on the new software,” he said. “It is due to be replaced. We will probably be coming back to you in the next 30 days to get that approved.
“In 2007 it was purchased through a grant and 911 funds. We can certainly take that purchase out of our 911 funds now,” he added.
The commission moved one step closer to having a meeting with the Dickinson County Commission and commissioners from all of the neighboring counties.
“I did send word out to the surrounding counties and I did hear back from all of them. All of them are all in favor and interested in having a joint meeting,” Homman said.
The county is working on hosting that meeting later in March.
Homman said that the counties’ 320 bridges need to be inspected.
Craig Chamberlin asked about the cost per bridge.
“When we first started bidding, it ranged up to $120 a bridge down into the $100. It floated around in that area,” he said, adding the current bridge inspection price is down to $80 a bridge.
Of those 320 bridges in the county, only 306 are owned by the county. Abilene owns four, Herington seven and Solomon four.
“We include them in our bid to get them a better price and they reimbursed us,” Homman said. “If the city were to contract with a bridge inspector, No. 1, if they could get anyone to come out and do it, they are all overloaded, it certainly wouldn’t be $80 a bridge. We can save them a considerable amount of money.”
In other action the county commissioners:
• approved the consent agenda which included minutes of the Feb. 14 work session and regular meeting, wire payments of $3,122.48, payroll of $242,064.87, expenditures of $475,259.62, abatements of $719.14 and added tax of $702.66 (the commission did not have a meeting on Feb. 21 due to weather conditions);
• approved a resolution to make certain property surplus to be sold at Purple Wave Auction;
• approved a contract to inspect bridges with Schwab-Eaton not to exceed $25, 600;
• approved the purchase of a loader for $123,000 (the previous loader which was approved was not available);
• approved the purchase of steel tubes for $6,559;
• approved the first payment to the contractor for the Detroit Sewer project of $145,855.82.