By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — Kosciusko County Commissioners have until Dec. 31 to come up with a new plan for local redistricting that meets state requirements.
The effort coincides with the recently finished U.S. Census and is an exercise in balancing the three districts with a near-equal number of constituents.
This was discussed during the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Oct. 12, when County Clerk Ann Torpy shared information regarding the current population per district for the commissioners’ districts, based on the 2020 Census.
Current population data shows that the northern district has 26,220 residents; the middle district has 33,919 residents; and the southern district has 20,101 residents. The target population per district is calculated by dividing the total population by the total number of districts.
State requirements include a deviation of less than 10 percent between districts. Currently, the deviation is at 52 percent.
Torpy provided commissioners with a proposal map which suggests moving Harrison 2, Etna Township, Prairie Township and Plain 4 to the southern district, which would result in a total deviation of 5 percent.
County council districts will remain the same.
At Torpy’s request, commissioners also approved an order establishing two new precincts, which became necessary following House Bill 1581 going into effect.
State lawmakers have already revised the districts for state senate, U.S. House and state house.
“Kosciusko County always seems to be one that ends up having to create new precincts because of those new district lines,” Torpy said.
She explained that a portion of Wayne 6 was divided between districts 18 and 9, resulting in the need for a new precinct.
In addition, districts 2 and 3 took in a portion of Wayne 2, which made it necessary to create a whole new precinct for one census block that has a total of 67 residents.
The order establishing new precincts must be turned in to the state by Friday.
In other news:
- Joseph Neil Westendorf of Oswego was honored as Veteran of the Month.
- Commissioners gave a shout-out to County Auditor Michelle Puckett for completing the 2020 state and federal audit with no errors. Commissioner Vice President Cary Groninger added that this is the third year in a row there have been no errors in the annual audit.
- Attorney Rick Helton, on behalf of the town of Sidney, requested that commissioners approve a resolution with an adjustment. This is related to two land parcels, one being a vacant lot.
- Pierceton Police Chief Tim Sammons told commissioners he applied for grant funding to cover the purchase of eight portable radios and four in-car radios; however, the grant was denied. Groninger pointed out that the current radios will work with the new radio system but said those involved in the emergency communications system project are continuing to look into funding sources for updated radios for police stations across the county.
- County Highway Superintendent Steve Moriarty received approval to apply for a $40,000 INDOT grant to be used for railroad crossing upgrades.
- Bowen Center representatives provided a 2021 annual report.
- A proposal from Core Mechanical in the amount of $14,721 for glycol to be used in the boiler system was accepted.
- The next regular meeting will be 9 a.m. Oct. 26.