OSWEGO, NY – The lines have been redrawn again. And, county residents will soon have their say regarding the proposed new boundaries for the 25 Oswego County Legislative Districts.
“We tried to make this as non-political as possible,” committee chairman Legislator Daniel Chalifoux said at Thursday’s meeting. “We tried to come to a happy medium number as possible. Everybody is pretty much affected.”
The committee’s goal was to bring all of the districts’ average populations to fewer than 4,900; using 2010 census data to establish the boundaries.
The average population, using the latest census figures, is 4,884, according to Dave Turner, director of the county Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department.
According to the law, populations in each district is required to be as close as possible to that figure, Turner explained, adding that it can’t be 5 percent above average or below average; 244 people over the average number or 244 people below.
The committee will send the final draft to the full legislature to consider. They will set a public hearing and then vote on it at the December meeting.
Legislator Dan Farfaglia made a motion to have the committee also consider a proposal he created. The motion, however, failed for lack of a second.
Chalifoux said he appreciated the legislator’s work, but noted the goal was to get the county districts’ population as close to the required number as possible.
In the committee’s version, 11 of the 25 districts are less than one percent of that number, he added. Only six were in the alternate proposal.
Turner also pointed out that he paid particular attention to districts that have seen the most growth over the past decade. There was an effort to make them districts with smaller populations in the proposal so if the trend continues, the county won’t be faced with such a large redistricting task after the next census. The populations have been kicked up slightly in districts that have lost population to provide a pad.
“That’s why we tried to get every (district) as close to zero as we could. So any potential change over the next 10 years is less likely to require more redistricting,” he said.
“Every 10 years (following the census), we have to be open to the fact that our district could be different,” added Legislator Louella LeClair. “That’s just the way it is. People are going to move in and out of our areas. I have new people to serve. That’s what the law says we have to do.”
Fred Beardsley, chair of the legislature, pointed out the 11 districts that are less than a one percent deviation in the committee’s proposal shows that the legislators are doing what they have to.
“He’s got a lot of good ideas here,” Legislator Morris Sorbello said of the proposal. “Whatever will work out for all of us is what we’re looking for.”
There were some concerns regarding specific areas, the town of Palermo for example, being chopped up between districts.
“Several legislators did come to me with concerns. We tried to take care of them the best we could and still stay within the guidelines given us by New York State and the chairman’s desire to get everybody as equal as possible where possible,” Turner explained. “We’ve taken everything that everyone’s expressed a concern of and tried to put it together.”
This is the 17th version of the proposal, he added.
After the county attorney goes over the proposal, legislators will vote at their November meeting to set a public hearing on the tentative changes. Then, the public hearing will be in December with the possible adoption of the plan then.
The committee consists of Legislator Daniel Chalifoux (chairman) and legislators John Martino, Daniel Farfaglia, Louella LeClair and Kevin Gardner.