County redraws districts linesPublished 12:27pm Thursday, November 15, 2012
Tallapoosa County may soon change district lines.
The county commission voted three to two to approve the B-1 Shaw map at the special called meeting Nov. 1, but the plan has not yet been submitted to the Justice Department for approval.
“Until the Justice Department approves it, it isn’t official,” said county administrator Blake Beck. “But there’s no reason I can see that the Justice Department would reject this.”
County attorney Thomas Radney said he is in the process of completing the legal description for the plan to be submitted to the Justice Department at the Nov. 13 meeting.
Beck said there are several ways to complete redistricting, but the county used the reapportionment office in Montgomery.
The B-1 Shaw plan changes the demographics of the counties five districts based on the 2010 U.S. Census.
“The principle at hand is one person, one vote,” Beck said. “You need approximately equal districts to make sure every vote counts.”
Beck said the major changes of the plan will occur in Districts 4 and 5 with them essentially swapping a few areas.
“District 5 lost some people,” Beck said. “They lost part of Camp Hill but gained some in StillWaters and Paces Point.”
Commissioners Charles Shaw, T.C. Coley and Emma Jean Thweatt voted for the plan. Frank Tapley and Dwaine Holt voted against it.
Tapley cited the differences in road mileage between the districts as his reason for voting against the B-1 Shaw plan.
Tapley said his district has 344.917 miles of roads, while District 1 has 13.118 miles of roads.
“I have 344 miles of roads (in District 3),” Tapley said. “I can’t handle 344. I don’t have the manpower to handle it. It’s not fair (having) that many miles of roads.”
Beck said the current law requires that the county engineer is responsible to determine where money is allocated.
“We vote on prioritizing roads,” Tapley said. “Three commissioners can change that anytime they want to. Three commissioners can tell the county engineer what to do anytime they want to.”
Beck said the district requirements are based on population and do not address road mileage.
He said polling places and other decisions would not be made until the plan is approved by the Justice Department.
“The 2014 election will be the first election the new district lines will be in effect,” Beck said. “We’ve got some time, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”