ONEONTA _ The city's Redistricting Commission will meet for the first time this month to begin considering population numbers and redrawing ward lines toward the principle of "one person, one vote," city officials said Sunday.
Mayor Dick Miller said he, the city attorney and commissioners will meet in City Hall at 5 p.m. June 19. The meeting will be open to the public for observation, he said.
Commissioners will discuss their responsibilities; the review process, which will include hiring a consultant; and a timetable, Miller said. The project is required because of the most recent census figures, he said, and must be completed in time for the next election of council members in 2015.
As of Jan. 1, 1976, the wards were increased from six to eight, the city's website said, and ward lines were redrawn.
City attorney David Merzig said population is uneven in some wards, with the result that smaller wards are disadvantaged politically because of unequal representation on the Common Council.
The commission will be responsible for reviewing the city's population by ward and determine if and what changes in boundaries might be so that each ward has about the same number of citizens, Merzig said.
At last week's meeting, the council appointed commissioners. The appointees and their wards are: Richard Denicore, First Ward; Emily Ernsberger, Second Ward; Jason Antrosio, Third Ward; Cecelia Zapata, Fourth Ward; Barry Warren, Fifth Ward; Becky Thomas, Sixth Ward; Paul Scheele, Seventh Ward; and Leif VanCott, Eighth Ward.
Thomas, a real estate agent, said Sixth Ward Common Council Member Russ Southard asked her to join the commission because she has been a resident of that ward most of her life. Thomas said she awaits the first meeting to find out more details about objectives but knows that she wants to "be sure good things will happen" for the ward.
"I'm passionate about the Sixth Ward," Thomas said. "I answered the call."
The Common Council also has approved solicitation of proposals from potential consultants.
Miller said the project may take three to six months, with perhaps six to eight meetings of the commission, but procedures and scheduling are up to commissioners.
"They're going to be very much in charge of this process," Miller said.
Miller estimated the cost of the project at about $10,000, but expenses will be determined after the city receives proposals from potential consultants.
The commission eventually will make recommendations to the Common Council, which determine the boundaries, Merzig said.
According to the City Charter, a review is to be made every 10 years after the federal census to determine that ward boundaries conform to the "one man, one vote" principle.