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County's districts to change

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By Calen McKinney

Taylor County's magisterial districts will change next year. And, on Friday, magistrates took the first step toward making the change official.

The Taylor County Reapportionment Commission presented its report to the Taylor Fiscal Court during a special meeting Friday morning.

The Commission, made up of residents Kenneth Pierce, Carole Whitley and Dr. Jerry Kibbons and nonvoting member Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney, was appointed May 10 to study the population of the county's six magisterial districts using the 2010 Census data. The members were also to present a report of potential changes to magistrates.

Carney, who is the secretary of the Commission, told magistrates that the group has met three times and, along with help from the Lake Cumberland Area Development District, has finalized its report.

The Court contracted with the LCADD to compile the Census data using various computer systems. Carney said that cost the County $800 but made the process much quicker and easier.

Pierce, who serves as chairman of the Commission, said that state law requires magisterial districts be drawn in a compact and contiguous way so that they are as equally populated as possible.

No more than 10 percent disparity is acceptable, Pierce said, meaning that each district can have as much as 5 percent more or less than the population of Taylor County divided by six.

The total population of Taylor County is 24,999. When divided, that means each of the six magisterial districts should contain 4,083 residents. When considering the acceptable 10 percent disparity, Pierce said, the districts can have as many as 4,287 people but no less than 3,879 to be consider equal.

Looking at the districts are they are currently drawn, he said, there are three districts that contain more or less than the acceptable amounts.

District 3, which is represented by Magistrate Tommy Corbin, has 3,364 residents, which is 515 less than the acceptable amount.

District 4, which is represented by Magistrate Matt Pendleton, contains 4,413 residents, or 126 more than the limit.

Lastly, District 5, which Magistrate Ed Gorin represents, has 71 more than the limit, or 4,358 residents.

To correct those problems, Pierce said, the Commission recommends two changes.

First, the Commission recommends moving the boundaries in Districts 5 and 4 so that 89 people move from District 5 to District 4.

To do this, the boundaries would be changed near the Taylor County Extension Office, specifically those living on the left side of Risen Avenue to Summit Drive. The left side of Summit Drive over to KY 55 would become part of District 4.

Second, the Commission recommends moving boundaries so a total of 606 people will be moved from District 4 to District 3. Specifically, all of the Smith Ridge Road area, along with the left side of Speck Ridge Road, the left side of Knifley Road to Speck Ridge Road, a portion of Elk Horn Road not currently in District 3 and the left side of Stone Quarry Road will become part of District 3. Green River Lake will become the border to magisterial districts.

If those changes are approved, the number of residents in each of the magisterial districts will fall within the correct population range.

(For a breakdown of the number per district before and after the changes, see the chart that accompanies this story.)

Though the total change for District 4 is listed as 517 people, the changes first call for 89 people to be added to the district and then moved to District 5. When added together, District 4 will lose a total of 606 people.

With the changes, Carney said District 5 becomes the smallest district in size but largest in population. District 4 used to be the largest.

Carney said the changes won't change the city limits. That means that those who could vote in city races before the change in magisterial boundaries will still get to vote in those races.

One other change as a result of the reapportionment, Carney said, will be in the constable districts. After the change, Marshall Graham, the current constable in District 4, will no longer live in that district.

Carney said Graham will serve the remainder of his term as District 4's constable. However, if he chooses to run again, Carney said Graham will have to file in the District 3 race.

Carney said the Court has 60 days to act on the Commission's report. The Court must take action on the report, he said, by either accepting it and adopting an ordinance changing the magisterial boundaries or rejecting the proposal and creating its own.

He said any registered voter who opposes whatever reapportionment is approved must file a challenge at the Taylor Circuit Court's office within 20 days of a new ordinance being adopted.

Carney said changes created by the reapportionment will be effective next year.

If the Court approves the Commission's report, he said, changes will have to be made to the county's voting precinct lines.

Specifically, six precincts will change, including Acton, Speck, Old South, New South, New City West and Elk Horn-Yuma.

The County Board of Elections will submit the changes in precincts to the State Board of Elections for approval. The state board will have 30 days to consider the new precincts.

Once approved, residents will receive letters in the mail if their magistrate or voting precinct changes.

Before voting on the Commission's report, Kibbons presented another report that he said doesn't require any action from the Court.

As a Commission member, he said, he recognizes that the proposed changes to the magisterial districts don't address the possibility that the Court could be made up of six magistrates who don't live inside the Campbellsville city limits.

"... Which would create no equity in the representation of the people," he said.

Though there are City residents who live in each of the six magisterial districts, the current Court has only one member, James Jones, who lives inside the city limits. Historical, city residents have only rarely sought magisterial seats.

"However, every four years at election time, there exists the great possibility that none of the members of the Court would live in the incorporated limits," Kibbons said.

As such, Kibbons said he recommends that current magistrates, before the end of their term in 2014, create two more magisterial districts within the city limits.

One district, Kibbons said, could use Elk Horn Road as a boundary and the other Central Avenue.

"It would provide the opportunity for fair representation of the incorporated area on the Fiscal Court," he said.

To begin discussion of the Commission's report, Gorin made a motion to accept it, which Magistrate John Gaines seconded.

Pendleton said he isn't happy that the Commission's changes call for him to lose so many constituents.

"I'm not gonna stand in the way of the Committee's work," he said. "But I'm not in favor of losing 600 people. I represent them. I take me representing them very serious."

Pendleton asked Carney whether he would remain the magistrate of those who are his constituents now but will become Corbin's until the next election.

"At what time does he become their magistrate?" Pendleton asked.

The boundary changes will go into effect before the next election, Carney said, but he isn't sure when the change in magisterial representation would take effect.

Gaines said he believes if Graham can serve out his term as District 4 constable but actually live in District 3, then magistrate representatives shouldn't change until the next group of magistrates is elected.

Pendleton said it's important to remember that the current District 4 residents are the ones who voted him into office.

"Those people are the ones that elected me," he said.

Carney said he would research Pendleton's question and report back to the Court.

Gorin said he, like Pendleton, hates to lose 89 of his constituents.

"You get to know people," he said. "You get around and see them. It makes a difference."

Carney said even though 606 people - or just more than 2 percent of Taylor County residents - will shift magisterial districts as a result of the change, not all of them are registered voters. He said Census data also includes those who are younger than 18 and can't yet vote.

In response to Kibbons' recommendation of creating two new magisterial districts, Pendleton said, "I represent the people in the city because they are Taylor Countians. To say they're not fairly represented stings a little."

No further discussion or action was taken on Kibbons' proposal.

In a roll call vote, Gaines, Pendleton and Gorin voted to approve the Commission's proposed changes. Rogers cast a "yes" vote to create a majority.

Magistrates James Jones, Tommy Corbin and Richard Phillips did not attend the meeting. Phillips was teaching a class at Taylor Regional Hospital.

After the meeting, Rogers said the Court will have first reading of the ordinance setting the new magisterial boundaries at its regular meeting tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Taylor County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.

The final reading will be at the Court's next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

 

Taylor County population by magisterial district

 

District          Current Number          New Number          Number Changed

1                           4,055                          4,055                           0

2                           4,247                          4,247                           0

3                           3,364                          3,970                       +606

4                           4,413                          3,896                       -517

5                           4,358                          4,269                        -89

6                           4,062                          4,062                          0

Total                    24,499                         24,499