County approves eight district plan
SCHUYLER COUNTY—The Schuyler County Legislature’s redistricting committee approved a reworked eight district plan at the committee meeting held on Monday, May 14. The redistricting committee meeting immediately followed the regular meeting of the legislature. The other plan in consideration at the meeting was the five district plan, which would have eliminated three legislative seats and therefore required voter approval through a referendum.
The new eight district plan, dubbed plan “8D With Roads” by Cornell Cooperate Extension of Schuyler County planning director Rocky Kambo, pairs Watkins Glen with the northern portion of the town of Dix rather than with southwest Hector as set out in plan “8B.” Southwest Hector is then combined with the northern half of the town of Montour, with southern Montour being paired with southern Dix. Kambo also prepared two other eight district plans attempting to separate Watkins Glen from southwest Hector; however, the population disparity between those proposed districts was near or above 10 percent. The population distribution disparity with plan 8D is around four percent.
Chairman Dennis Fagan said that plan 8D, “geographically speaking, makes more sense than 8B.” He explained that he preferred the five district plan because of the cost savings associated with eliminating legislative seats, but that he would support 8D if a consensus could be reached. Fagan also said that legislator Stewart Field, who was not in attendance, supported the five district plan but would also vote for 8D. Both plans fall well under the 10 percent population disparity the legislature was aiming to achieve.
Legislator Barbara Halpin said she was disappointed that they were not able to decrease the legislature by one. She said that she could not support the five district plan because “it would have been a huge burden,” she explained, “I don’t think five people could sit on all of the outside committees and do all that needs to be done.”
Administrator Tim O’Hearn commented that cost savings would still result from redistricting even though a legislative seat is not eliminated. He said that by strategically placing polling stations within the districts, the voting process will be more efficient, which will save the county from purchasing excess voting machines.
The remaining legislators, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison, Phil Barnes, Michael Yuhasz and Thomas Gifford voiced their support for plan 8D and the public comments mostly echoed that opinion. The committee then voted to endorse plan “8D With Roads.” The redistricting plan will eventually be presented to the full legislature in the form of a local law. Voters are not required to approve the new plan because the number of legislatures remains the same and therefore, there is no mandatory referendum. However, a referendum can be compelled if the public successfully petitions to hold one.
In other business:
• At the regular meeting of the legislature, held immediately prior to the redistricting committee meeting, the legislature passed a resolution marking May 14, 2012 as “Mayday for Mandate Relief.” The resolution states that nine state mandates consumed ninety percent of all property taxes collected by upstate counties in 2010. It goes on to request that the Mandate Relief Council “take swift action in submitting a package of mandate relief to Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to be voted on by our State Representation during the 2012 State Legislative Session.”
• Also at the regular meeting of the legislature, the legislature voted to authorize a contract with Icon Enterprises Inc., doing business as CivicPlus to redesign and host the county’s website. The company is located in Manhattan and will receive $19,234.77 for the development and for one year of hosting the website. $4,540 will then be paid annually in following years for further support and hosting. The website redesign is expected to take four to six months.
The next meeting of the legislature is scheduled for Monday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the legislative chambers.