By NATHAN GREGORY
The last of three public hearings at Tuesday’s Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting was on the city’s redistricting process.
The hearing was the first on the matter. Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, which is in charge of the process, currently has four plans for reshaping districts in order to even the amount of voters in each of the city’s seven wards. In order to be in compliance with the United States Department of Justice, there has to be a lower-than-10-percent deviance in the ward with the smallest amount of residents and the ward with the largest amount. As it currently stands, there is a 70.80 percent deviance between the total population in Ward 1 of 5,123 and Ward 2 of 2,707. The ideal population number for each ward, in theory, would be 3,413.
GTPDD currently has four proposed redistricting plans, although GTPDD GIS manager Toby Sanford said the third and fourth plans are the ones that will be considered.
Both plans do have one error in regards to census data. An area located on the Mississippi State University campus shown on the two maps that would transfer voters from Ward 3 to 4 does not actually have any residents.
Sanford said this is likely an error stemming from the United States Census Bureau. He said because of the extensive amount of paperwork it takes to rectify the error, he wants to get input from the board in a near-future planning session to see what action it wants to take.
“It was probably coded wrong by a census worker. I’m going to see what has to be done to get that corrected and to see if that’s something (the board) wants to fix,” Sanford said. “That’s honestly the only error in the data. We’ve done this for a lot of different counties and a lot of different cities and I’ve seen lots of errors. There’s going to be human error in it somewhere.”
Plan 3 would take 1,588 voters out of Ward 1 to bring its total population down to 3,535. Ward 2 would gain 677 people to reach 3,384. Ward 3 would downsize from 4,514 to 3,296, Ward 4 would add 442 residents to its current 3,039 to make 3,481 and Ward 5 would add 649 to its current 2,831 to have 3,480 total residents. Wards 6 and 7 would also see increased numbers, as 6 would have 3,309 constituents from its current 2,764 and 7 would have 3,403 from its current 2,910. Overall, there would be only a 7 percent deviance between the city’s least and most populated wards under Plan 3.
Sanford said there are only two differences between Plans 3 and 4 are the locating of all of Greensboro Street to Ward 1 and keeping Nash Street in 4 where it currently stands in order to keep City Planner Ben Griffith in Ward 4. This would create a 8.59 percent deviance, which is still small enough to stay under the maximum of 10 percent.
Population-wise, Ward 1 would have 3,589 residents, Ward 4 would have 3,543, Ward 5 would have 3,418 and Ward 7 would have 3,349. Wards 2, 3 and 6 would see no change in Plan 4.
Proposed redistricting maps can be viewed at http://www.cityofstarkville.org/detail.php?p=2&s=204