YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It is going to take a little more time before Youngstown City Council members have the chance to vote on new boundaries for the city’s seven wards.
Council met Monday afternoon for one of its summer sessions, but the new agreement to redraw districts was not on the agenda as planned. Officials said some last minute details must still be ironed out before the new maps can be approved.
Under Ohio law, communities are supposed to re-align ward districts every 10 years after the latest Census is complete. The boundaries are to be drawn so that ward populations are equal.
But now, only about 65,000 people live in the city, roughly a third of what Youngstown’s population was in the 1950’s, and some wards have shrunk more quickly than others. It has been more than 30 years since redistricting has been done.
“As you have seen in the approach of this getting passed, it is contentious and sometimes there are differences of opinion as to where the boundaries should be and my best guess is that it was just easier leaving things the way they were,” Youngstown City Law Director Marty Hume said.
But at least one city resident thinks there is more to it.
“For 30 years, they knew they were in violation of the Ohio Constitution, that they have to redistrict every 10 years after the census, and they have not done it. And there’s been seasoned Council representatives on this Council and they know better and a couple of them are dragging their feet,” resident Terry Esarco said.
Although Hume told Council the updated maps and language would be ready for Council’s next meeting, possibly next month, he said there is no rush.
“Whether it is August or September, there still will be plenty of time to put things together so that the redistricting will be done in time for the 2015 elections,” Hume said.
But others in the community may try to take matters into their own hands by collecting signatures to place an amendment to the city charter on the November ballot to reduce the number of wards from seven down to just five.