Changes to the city’s four district boundaries are in limbo as city councilors continue discussing the current district map following August’s Census results.
Councilors weighed eight different options presented during the Monday, Nov. 1 work session while addressing the population changes reflected in the 2020 Census data. Any changes to district boundaries require a unanimous vote.
Boundaries must be adjusted within a year of the Census results release, according to the City Charter, keeping councilors to a strict August 2020 deadline.
City council may opt to adjust the boundaries before the deadline, but the changes must be adopted prior to Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 — the first day petition nominations may be circulated for the April 2022 Montrose City Council elections.
Election information, including the updated city council district map, will be available to prospective candidates by mid-December, according to the city’s website.
According to the 2020 Census, the City of Montrose’s total population is 20,293, around half of the entire county’s population.
The updated total sets a target population of 5,073 persons per district. The eight map options presented during the work session showed the resident count per district and any deviation from the original target number.
The city’s charter outlines how the four districts are drawn, stating that the city council will be divided into four districts of approximately equal population. District boundaries are required to be adjusted from “time to time” by council members in order to maintain the condition, but must be done within the allotted year.
Councilor Barbara Bynum noted that adjustments can only be made based on the recent census — any decisions regarding future growth are prohibited. Bynum also pointed out that a main tenet of redistricting is keeping districts as “compact as possible,” with districts fitting within the smallest possible circumference of the area. The map that best followed this guideline was proposed map seven, she said.
She added that districts are supposed to group communities of interest together.
“That basically talks about communities of interest that can be in areas where certain minority populations would live or a large HOA would live, where a group of folks who might have similar transportation issues live and I think that option also keeps communities of interest together,” Bynum said of the seventh proposed map.
Mobile home parks such as Northbrook Villas aren’t included in the current or proposed maps, with proposals keeping any change at a minimum.
“We didn’t scrap it and start over,” said Bynum. “I think folks don’t like a lot of change, so it’s kind of the minimal amount of change that was needed in order to follow the rules.”
The proposed district maps are available for viewing at https://bit.ly/districtmapoptions.
Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.