Reapportionment committee approves new plan

By Stephen S. Glass

Star Staff

   The Carter County Reapportionment Committee approved what will likely be the final reapportionment plan presented for local voting districts on Thursday. Past plans approved by the committee met with controversy from constables, commissioners, and school board members.
   The first plan, approved by the committee in mid-October, would have reduced the number of county commissioners to 15, school board members to five, and constables also to five. That plan was rescinded during a November committee meeting after constables and school board members voiced opinions against it.
   A second plan, which would have kept the present number of commissioners (24) on the county panel, was given tentative approval during the same November meeting. But State/Local Planner Albert Teilhet, who has been working with the committee to draft a plan that will pass muster with both the county commission and the state, said Thursday that the November plan did not meet state guidelines for reapportionment.
   Teilhet then presented members with a new plan, one that likely will find approval from local and state government.
   The new plan provides for eight districts and 24 commissioners, 16 constables (the present number), and eight school board members (one more than the present number).
   According to Teilhet, the new plan requires moving 230 people from the 4th district to the 8th, and 300 people from the 7th district also into the 8th.
   "There will also have to be random movements of smaller groups around the county to get this thing to work," Teilhet said. "But for the most part, this plan is probably as good as you'll get; most of the moves will take place in the city, so everything is easy and compact. The election commission worked with us on this, and I think we all feel this will cause as little disruption to voters as possible."
   Most of the county's constables were present during last night's meeting and were pleased with the plan.
   "All the constables appreciate your hard work," Constable Ross Potter told the committee.
   The committee also approved a resolution urging the Tennessee General Assembly to adopt a private act making school board districts the same as commission districts. The resolution also provides for the admission of an eighth member to the school board.
   According to County Executive Truman Clark, the new board member would be elected from the 7th district.
   All recommendations made by the committee will be presented to the full commission on Monday, Dec. 10.
   In other matters:
   Members of the reapportionment committee also sit on the county's budget committee. Clark told members he will call a budget committee meeting next month to discuss declines in the county's revenue collections.
   "It looks like we may be short as much as $300,000 by the end of the [fiscal] year," said Clark. "If that's the case, we're going to have to make some cuts. Some things are going to have to go."