Florala council agrees on new districts

Published 12:02 am Friday, July 29, 2011

Florala City Council members have agreed to pursue a plan that would change voting districts before the March 2012 primary.

New Census numbers showed variation in population numbers within the city’s five voting districts, which necessitated the redistricting. The city then entered into an agreement in April with the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to determine where the new lines must be drawn.

“Remember, it’s one person, one vote,” said Scott Farmer with the SEARP&DC as he presented the plan. “You want everyone’s vote to count the same.

Under the proposed plan, highlights include: District 1, the heaviest populated district, will shrink, with the areas east of Sixth Avenue and U.S. Hwy. 331 absorbed into District 5. District 2 would be enlarged to include the north side of Fifth Avenue and the block of Seventh Street between Poplar and Virginia streets. District 3 would shift to include east of Ninth Avenue and south of Fifth Avenue.

In District 4, Central Y would be removed and area west of U.S. Hwy. 331, with Lakeshore Boulevard and Second Avenue added.

A public hearing is set for Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. to hear input on the plan.

“Equal population is our goal,” Farmer said. “Before the districts were a little uneven, so this kind of squares them up here and there.”

Farmer said once the city approves a plan, it must be finalized by the Department of Justice, which generally takes about 60 days once submitted.

Maps for both the existing district and the new proposed districts are on display now at city hall.

Farmer said the plan must be in place three months prior to the next election, which in this case, is Tues., March 13, 2012.

In other business, the council:

• heard project updates and grant opportunities from CDG Engineers’ Tim Ramsden.

• signed a resolution to assist the utilities board in applying for a CDBG grant for sewer and lift station rehab, as well as another to apply for a recreational grant.

• approved a lease with the Covington County School Board for the Kiwanis Park property.

• voted to spend $9,600 on a camera system for the police department.

• waived the first reading of and approved an ordinance allowing the city to bill insurance companies for response by the volunteer fire department.