The Butler County Commission continued its discussion of the redistricting of the county during their meeting Tuesday morning.
Following a public hearing Monday evening, in which the mayor of Cassoday spoke, a second public hearing started Tuesday's meeting.
"There are three different maps we've been considering," said Commission Chair Dan Woydziak. "We started with 10 to 12 and this is the three we've come up with to present. This is not locked in solid yet."
The first to speak was Sasha Stiles, Andover city administrator, on behalf of the city of Andover.
She said they had a work session Monday evening to discuss the maps and their preference was for plan 3.
Connie Darnell, director of the Leon Senior Center, also spoke on behalf of her board and their members, saying with their proximity to El Dorado and having had Commissioner Mike Wheeler in their facility before, they would like for plan three because that maintains that relationship.
Following the public hearing, the commissioners further discussed the issue.
"Where I stand today based on my discussions last night (with Andover) and my own preference, I'm standing with plan 3 as I see it today," said Commissioner Jeff Masterson.
Commissioner Peggy Palmer did not agree though and voiced some concerns over the changes.
"Based on our purpose and our goals we have to make these decisions in relocating or changing people's availability to citizens, and how it's going to represent them and what changes it's going to make. We have to approach the growth part of it and we have to approach the compactness and the least number of changes for citizens," she said.
She also considered she heard from someone concerned they would change the person they voted for to represent them.
"I looked at changes with each one of them," Palmer said of the proposed new maps.
She looked at how many citizens the changes would affect.
"That is my major concern or preference," she said. "That I go with what is the least changes for each one of you (citizens) and who you voted for."
According to her calculations, map one would cause 11,123 changes, map two would cause 26,714 changes and map three would affect 32,000 people.
"That can't be right," said Masterson.
Palmer said those were the numbers she got, but County Administrator Will Johnson said county staff had come up with different numbers: plan one affecting 6,431, plan two affecting 4,354 and plan three affecting 5,398. Palmer insisted that those numbers didn't reflect changes from the original map, but Johnson said they did.
"You have to go to your original map to get these numbers I have right here," Palmer said. "She (the county employee) could not have done that."
Masterson pointed out it wasn't possible the changes could affect more than 50 percent of the people.
"If I'm wrong, prove me wrong," Palmer said.
Palmer went on to say she considered the rural versus urban population they each represent.
"It would be nice if we could break it up rural versus city but it's not going to happen," she continued. "Overall we are an urban area but that doesn't mean we can't represent people in the rural areas."
Commissioner Bruce Harris also voiced his thoughts, but first said he would not be voting on the redistricting next week, having given his resignation at the start of the meeting because he is moving out of the county.
"I am certainly in disagreement with the number of changes that were just presented," he said of Palmer's numbers. "I am in favor of map three based on trying to split more of the urban and rural, making a better showing for district one and also for the growth potential of Andover and accommodating them in the future."
Commissioner Mike Wheeler also liked map three, but he did want to add back in Sycamore Township, which is Cassoday, to his district.
Palmer said they should work to get Andover the lowest number of residents because of its potential for growth, but Woydziak said they could look at the map every three years and make adjustments.
None of the maps affected El Dorado much.
Woydziak said he did not have a problem with putting Sycamore back in District 3 and leaving that exactly as it is.
"I would like to make sure I keep my existing district because I am at the perfect number," Palmer said. "I endorse plan one."
The commissioners asked for additional figures on the changes and will vote on it at their Dec. 18 meeting.
(To see the other two map proposals, visit our webpage www.augustagazette.com)
In other business, the commissioners:
• Harris gave his resignation effective Dec. 18. "I would like to thank the employees and constituents of Butler County for allowing me to serve," he said.
• gave its consent for the Emergency Communications director to maintain the recording system for 911 calls and radio calls using a time and materials approach instead of a maintenance contract. This was because with the new system, it would increase the maintenance costs $12,760.
• approved a one-year license subscription agreement for Loislaw, an online legal service the jail provides for inmates. They are required by law to provide a legal library to the inmates and this is cheaper than having hard bound books.
Palmer was concerned about the inmates getting access to something the public couldn't access.
• approved authorizing the director of Strategic Communications to facilitate the direct sale of excess UHF communications equipment to governmental agencies in Butler County, followed by adjacent counties and their agencies, then offering it for sale to the public.
• approved 3-2 the payment of the annual contractual obligation to the Kansas Department of Transportation for Motorola software upgrades. Woydziak and Palmer were opposed because the county was not informed of this cost up front.
opened bids for purchase of corrugated metal pipe culverts for the Highway Division of the Public Works Department.
• tabled a report on the purchase of GPS survey equipment for one week.
• approved 4-1 a resolution that waives the obligation of Butler County to prepare financial statements in accordance with the GAAP requirements.
Palmer was concerned with this action and opposed it as she has before.
"I think we should have the GAAP system in accounting," Palmer said. "It is state law and is there for a reason, to get more information for us and our citizens. I think it is a disservice if we don't have GAAP principals."
One reason they do not do this, as many other counties don't, is because of the cost to the county, which would be about $200,000 to $250,000.
• approved resolutions to transfer unexpected funds from their funds to their respective reserve funds for the Health Fund, County Aging Fund, Emergency Medical Service Fund, Landfill Fund, Sheriff Fund, Road and Bridge Fund, General Fund and Jail Fund.
• discussed the fact the County Clerk's office and election office have lost their three employees, who all resigned last week, leaving no election staff for the county. Johnson will look into where they are at in the hiring process.