Commission approves plan for redistricting
The redistricting of Butler County was the topic of the special meeting held by the Butler County Commission Thursday night.
Due to the shift of population as reported by the 2000 Census, constitutional law mandates that the county redistrict its five voting zones to insure only a five percent difference in population in each area.
"We had to come up with a plan based on the 2000 Census population figures that equalizes the five districts," said Calvin Poole, attorney for the Butler County Commission. "Under the Voting Rights Act which is administered by the Department of Justice, we also have to come up with a plan so that the two minority districts do not lose any minority voting strengths, which is called retrogression. The Department of Justice does not want the percentage of voting age population for black citizens reduced in either one of the two minority districts. A third objective is that we have to implement a plan that has as little disruptions to Butler County as possible."
One area that experienced retrogression was District 2. "Right now, 54.89 percent of the voting age population is black. Under this plan, it will be 53.94 percent, which will be less than one percent change. The benefit will be that the county will be able to maintain all the current voting places," said Poole.
"Recently it was also brought to our attention that the plan that we had originally proposed was of great concern to the Forest Home community because it would basically eliminate the Forest Home voting place. We have come up with a slight revision so that it would keep the voting house in Forest Home," said Poole.
Fred Thompson, a resident of Forest Home, approached the commission with a plan he thinks will help sell the new redistricting plan to the Department of Justice. Thompson then presented the commission with several pictures of the Butler Springs voting house, and a petition with 50 signatures of Forest Home residents requesting to save the community's own voting house.
"There are many advantages of maintaining the Forest Home voting house
it's in the community, it's a relatively new building, it's handicap accessible, it's located near the conveniences of the stores and post office," said Thompson. "The Butler Springs voting house has been abandoned for a number of years, it's in an isolated area, it's not handicap accessible, and because it's in such a run-down condition it is a liability for the county. Based on this information today and the cost of repairing the building to usable condition, I am glad to hear you say that you would like to save our voting house."
Poole added, "I would also like to say that the commissioners were very active in helping us come up with a map that would satisfy the requirements of law with as little disruption as possible to the current voting plans. I have heard no expression on the part of any commission to draw the lines for personal benefit.
"I think we have come up with the best plan possible without starting over from scratch and redrawing every line in every district," Poole said.
Also this week, the commission held its regular monthly meeting Monday and approved the following:
a resolution for the bond issuance for the Butler County Industrial Development Authority;
an amendment to the sick leave portion of the personnel policy to include sons and daughters;
approved a change in the alcohol and drug policy of the personnel policy;
an amendment to the gasoline budget fund for $109,000;
a resolution for a loan for the new loader from People's Bank and Trust Company;
an additional day for county employees for Christmas holidays for Wednesday, December 26.