Shelbyville council members got their first look Tuesday at proposed changes to the city's wards.
Every 10 years, following new U.S. Census figures, the wards for council representation are reviewed and adjusted if necessary based on population growth. This stems from the famous 1964 Supreme Court case that established the "one man, one vote" rule.
According to the 2010 Census, Shelbyville has a population of 20,335, meaning that approximately 3,400 people would be assigned to each of the city's six wards.
Click here to see a map of the proposed changes.
City manager Jay Johnson explained to the council that the census figures have to be used "by tract," meaning the census' definition of a neighborhood, stressing that the tracts cannot be divided.
Johnson, city recorder Vickie Haskins and city planner Ed Dodson met with a member of the South Central Tennessee Development District, utilizing their Global Information System (GIS), to draft the first version of the map.
Council members can make any changes to the map they wish, Johnson said, and then the wards would be adopted by ordinance, including a public hearing.
But Johnson also said that the wards have to be laid out in a "zero sum game," saying that they don't have a lot of room to move large numbers of citizens between the areas.
"There are some legal hoops we have to jump through," Johnson said.
Councilman Sam Meek said that the map should be made available to the public due to confusion some have had about which ward they are actually in. To view the map, see this story on the T-G website.
Wards 4 and 6 had the most growth over the last 10 years, so they will have to give up territory, while other wards would need to expand to make everything even.
The process will need to be completed before March or April, Johnson explained, so that the election commission can have time to have the new boundaries formerly established in time for the next city election for Wards 1, 3 and 5 in 2012.
Those wards will be the ones that will see some population added. For example, Ward 5 is shown moving two blocks north to Kingwood Avenue from its previous boundary on Scotland Heights.
According to law, each of the wards have to contain between a minimum of 3,230 and a maximum 3,570 persons, which can be varied five percent high or low, Jognson said.
Individual maps of each the proposed wards will be given to the corresponding council member, and Johnson said that the GIS software gives the city many capabilities that were not available 10 years ago when the last redistricting took place.
Johnson also noted that city staff has yet to look into the issue of minority representation, saying that they have only done the Census head count data and are trying to make the wards balanced as it applies to population.
Other issues will also be addressed as the council moves through the redistricting process, Johnson explained to the T-G.