By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen's leaders moved one step closer Tuesday toward finalizing a plan for redistricting the four City Council districts in a manner that would nearly equalize population counts across the city.
Council members narrowed down - from six to four - the options for new boundary lines that will be presented in a public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Utility Collections Building.
Although two options had been outlined previously, the two newest plans were drawn late last week with the input of council members interested in giving the fast-growing District 4 more flexibility for future population expansion.
Newly appointed Councilman Mike Lower said on Wednesday that he is comfortable with what was presented.
"The important thing for citizens is that we leave room for growth," Lower said. "Even though there is the possibility we may have to do this again, we want to make sure we don't become landlocked. The proposals we have are wide open to being able to do that."
The need for redistricting became clear after figures from the 2010 Census showed population growth in District 4 has dramatically surpassed the other districts. District 4 encompasses the southwestern portion of the city.
Roughly 53,918 people reside in District 4, compared to the 21,318 residents in District 1. Districts 2 and 3, by comparison, contain 29,320 and 23,365 people respectively.
In accordance with state and federal law, municipalities are instructed to avoid population deviations greater than 10 percent between the largest and smallest districts. The deviation between District 1 and District 4 is at 101 percent, City Attorney Kathy Davis said.
Council members last week seemed to favor a particular option known as 3B that would shift all districts west and wrap District 3 around a much smaller District 4.
On Tuesday, however, the newest two options also drew increasing interest. Both would extend District 4 farther to the south. The options that were dropped from consideration would have displaced at least one council member from his own district due to changing boundary lines.
All four options that will come forward Tuesday fall well under the 10 percent deviation.
Davis said Killeen has been moving forward quickly in an effort to establish clear boundaries that will be taken into consideration as Bell County undertakes its own redistricting process.
The county redistricting is reportedly already well under way. A public hearing on its proposed redistricting plan is set to take place Monday, and adoption could follow soon thereafter, confirmed Bell County Clerk Shelley Coston.
Contact Andy Ross at email@example.com or (254) 501-7468.