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Council approves redistricting plan

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

After brief discussion with their attorney and reviewing three potential plans for redistricting, the Lockhart City Council approved a map on Tuesday evening that will shift the boundary lines for the city’s four single-member voting districts.

Last month, attorneys with the firm of Bickerstaff, Heath, Delgado and Acosta presented

two possible solutions for redistricting that would bring the city’s four districts back into compliance with Federal voting law, as a result of the data collected during the 2010 Census. During a public hearing earlier in June, Lockhart resident Philip Ruiz presented a third plan, which suggested more comprehensive changes to the boundary lines.

After reviewing all three plans and weighing the pros and cons of each, the council voted on Tuesday to approve what was previously publicized as “Plan B,” which makes three significant changes to the district lines. Most of those changes impact residents of District 1.

Under the plan, which will be forwarded to the Department of Justice for approval this summer, the blocks south of West Pecan Street and east of the center of Main Street will be shifted out of District 4 and into District 1, as will the area bordered by FM 20 East (Blackjack Street), Highway 183, Bufkin Lane and FM 1322 (South Commerce Street).

The area south of Bufkin Lane, including the Summerside subdivision, will shift out of District One and into District 4.

The plan also pulls the area bordered by Bois D’arc Street, North Medina, Monte Vista and Stueve Lane out of District 3 and places it in District 2.

Manuel Mendez, an attorney with Bickerstaff and Heath, said the plan is in compliance with Federal and state voting standards, and should pass muster with the Department of Justice. However, until it is approved, the city’s district lines will remain in limbo.

Mendez said he hopes the plan will be approved this summer, in time for the beginning of filing periods for the November 2011 city council elections.

In other business, the council heard a presentation from architect Norm Alston, who has been working on the renovation project at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library complex, including the expansion of improvements in the Masonic Building annex.

During a brief presentation, Alston gave the council information about the project, including sharing the paint colors and choices of lighting and hardware fixtures in the Masonic Annex.

Alston said his firm is ready to move forward with sending the project out for bids at the end of this month, in preparation to begin work as early as September.

In a related item, The Irving Club presented a $1,500 donation, and the Pennies for Books program presented another $500 donation to the library.

In brief news:

In an effort to adjust schedules for law enforcement and fire personnel, the council approved a change in scheduling that will see police officers working an 84-hour, 14 day work period and firefighters working a 212-hour, 28 day work period.

The council considered the allocation of $60,000 for the purchase of a new fire truck to replace an apparatus with a damaged pump. The cost to repair the existing equipment is estimated at $70,000.

They approved the designation of $96,716 from funds acquired in a 2006 Certificate of Obligation for improvements to the runways, taxiway, ramp and lighting at the Lockhart Municipal Airport. The funds were earmarked for the airport improvement project when the certificate of obligation was acquired.

In preparation for upcoming budget negotiations, the council held a workshop on Saturday, June 18 and started discussing possible changes to the budget. Of note, District 4 Councilmember Richard Banks has suggested doing away with the position of EMS Director, and bringing the EMS department under the umbrella of the Lockhart Fire Department. A consensus from the council determined the possibility would be discussed during budget workshops.

City Manager Vance Rodgers reported that he had received confirmation from attorneys in Bentonville, Ark., regarding the agreement of funds transfers required to begin construction on the long-awaited Super Wal-Mart. Rodgers said the corporation expects to hold a pre-bid conference for contractors later this week, in preparation for groundbreaking on the construction.

The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Center at Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and are televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.

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