Committee starts work on redistricting
PENN YAN—The Yates County Redistricting Committee plans to address the issue of whether the number of members of the Yates County Legislature should be reduced. During their first meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7, Chair Robert Multer said the committee needs to spend time over the next few weeks doing research on the matter to determine what would be best for the county.
The legislature currently has 14 members representing four districts. District I (which includes Italy, Middlesex and Jerusalem) has four representatives. District II (Benton, Potter and Torrey) has three legislature members. District III (Milo 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6) has four representatives on the legislature. District IV (Barrington, Milo 4 and Starkey) has three members.
Multer said that he preferred the legislature as it is currently structured. He explained the benefit of having several legislature representatives for each district is more flexibility for constituents. If residents are not in agreement with one of their representatives, they will still have others to go to. Doug Paddock added the county has more work on their hands every year. He said that with fewer legislators, it could mean certain tasks being done in a less efficient manner.
However, while Multer said he saw the current structure being favorable, he also stressed the importance of seeing if any other options have benefits. “We need to look at alternatives and see what would be the best answer,” he said. “It would be worthwhile to make the public aware of these options.”
Don House explained his understanding is the N.Y. State Supreme Court requests the number of legislatures must depend on population in a county. Multer added that each district must have a 10 percent variance (its population can be no more than 10 percent greater than all other districts in the county). He said the committee has enough information regarding population. However, more research needs to be done on each district’s variance. Multer also noted one question that still needs to be answered is how many Keuka College students are included in the population for Jerusalem (where the college is located).
According to Multer, the only alternative that has been looked at is reducing the legislature to 11 members. He said the committee will also look at more alternatives and weigh each of their positives and negatives in the near future. However, Multer stated that more research needs to be done by the committee over the next few weeks before any decisions are considered.
During the meeting, the committee also discussed the possibility of increasing the terms of elected legislature members from two to four years. Multer said that he favored keeping the term limits at two years. He explained that while increasing to four years would benefit legislators, it would “not be in the best interest of the taxpayers.” Multer said that if constituents are not satisfied with the job of a representative, they would be stuck with that person for a longer period of time. However, while Multer said he favored keeping terms the same, it is still up to committee members to look into the matter in the near future and come to a consensus as a whole.