On Nov. 2, an important public referendum was approved by voters that will affect County government (in a positive way) for many years.
The referendum asked the voters to approve a proposal to reduce the size of the county Legislature from the current 19 members to 17. This proposal was born from within the county Legislature during this year's budget process as a way to reduce cost and improve the efficiency of county government. It is also part of an overall strategy to keep the number of people in each legislative district about the same. As people move between districts, or into and out of the county, the boundaries of each Legislative district need to be adjusted. The last time the size of the Legislature was changed was in 2001 when it was reduced from 24 to 19 to accomplish a similar goal. By periodically adjusting the size of the Legislature and the boundaries of each district, it guarantees that each citizen in the county has equal representation in county government and prevents certain areas from having more or less control than others.
That brings me to the question of "how?" How exactly does the county Legislature decide how to redraw the district boundaries and how do we decide which two Legislators get "the boot?" As you can imagine, this is going to be a difficult process. The U.S. Census results will be available in March 2011. The Census results will show the populations in each of the current Legislative districts which will indicate which districts have experienced the biggest increases and the biggest decreases since 2000. Based on those figures, we will be able to tell which of these districts need to be enlarged (due to decreasing population), which need to be reduced (due to increasing population) and which ones can be combined because they have decreased in population and have no place to expand to.