By this Friday the 13 County Council district seats must be reapportioned to adjust for population changes in the County between the 2000 and 2010 Census. Those seats will remain intact until the next Census in 2020.
As we wrote in a previous blog there were really two competing plans-one largely drawn up by Council and staff and one drawn up by a County citizen-and the former plan in the one on the agenda for Council’s March 6th meeting.
Under that plan four Council districts-6 (a south hills based district), 10 (a City based district that includes Wilkinsburg), 11 (a City based district with Mt Oliver, Homestead, and Munhall), and 13 (a wholly City based district)-would remain intact. All other districts would have some degree of shifting to balance the size of population within the district.
Going forward, the only remaining reapportionment issue is the proposal to allow for the City of Pittsburgh to be included in a maximum of six Council districts, altering the standard of dividing a municipality "into as few County Council districts as possible". That would not come into play in the current redistricting, but would become code language for future redistricting plans.
This week Allegheny County Council begins discussion on how to redraw the boundaries of the 13 district based seats to reflect the new Census count that puts the County’s population at 1.223 million. This is the second time in Council’s history that a reapportionment has occurred: the old commissioner system that gaveway in 2000had three elected officials that served at large.
We wrote about the firstreapportionment in a Brief back in 2002. Hopefully the "Special Committee on Reapportionment", comprised of five Democrats and two Republicans, does not go down the road that was traveled nearly ten years ago as described in that Brief.
Based on the 2000 Census the typical district would contain 98,589 people. With slight variation the approved districts ranged from 97k to just over 100k. The new Census count would put the population count at 94,013 per district. The key consideration that the Committee has to make is on how to avoid dividing municipalities into separate districts. Currently the City of Pittsburgh touches four of the 13 districts: nearly all of the 10th (Wilkinsburg is the only non-city municipality in that district), parts of the 11th and 12th, and all of the 13th. The County’s administrative code has the key language: "unless absolutely necessary, no city, borough, township, or ward should be divided in forming councilmanic districts…A municipality shall be divided into as few County Council districts as possible". The City still represents about 1/4th of the County’s total population as it did in the 2000 Census. It could be possible that the City’s influence spreads to three districts this time around instead of the current four. The original 2002 plan referenced in the Brief wanted to have the City touch 6 of the 13 districts.
This will be the first meeting of this special committee, so there is no set schedule yet for public hearings or input as of yet.