The High Cost Of The Unnecessary County District Expansion

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The cost of redistricting to 11 County Commission seats, and potentially 11 school board members, should have been disclosed to the public prior to approval.  Now that the redistricting plan is approved, the public is learning about the real costs. The redistricting plan for Hamilton County turned out to be much more costly than the public was aware of, and, to add insult to injury, here comes state Senator Todd Gardenhire to enrich the political class with even more taxpayer cash.

 

Isn’t that fun, the political class giving the political class a big fat raise. 

 

On Nov.

2 of this year, the Hamilton County Commission voted in majority to increase the number of elected district representatives from 9 to 11, adding two additional elected county representatives.  The basis used by the county commissioners was the census data that cites the county has increased in population.  Historical census data for Hamilton County shows that nine districts have been adequate for many decades, with similar growth.  I realize that new population does not occur uniformly across districts, so adjustments in the existing district boundaries would have been required, but not sweeping growth in the political class.

 

Y’all, there is no real basis to grow the number of districts and the political class.

 

1970      254,236                              6.9%

1980      287,740                              13.2%

1990      285,536                              -0.8%

2000      307,896                              7.8%

2010      336,463                              9.3%

2020      366,207                              8.8%

 

A redistricting measure this substantial and sweeping should have been by referendum; let the voters decide.  Only after the redistricting plan passes do we learn the actual costs of adding two new districts to Hamilton County.  You can bet the school board will follow eventually and add two new school board seats, as well.

 

The cost of growing a larger political class in Hamilton County is not limited to the salary. I remember a time when elected service was actually service without a salary of  $2,100 a month, plus, health insurance, retirement, and a host of other perks.  Elected service is now a heavily compensated part time job. The cost of health insurance and retirement benefits is significant, and for estimation let's assume 35 percent of salary, which I believe to be low given health insurance costs.

 

2 New County Commissioners

$25,394 X 2 New Commissioners = $50,788

Benefits Est $50,788 X 1.35 = $68,564

 

2 New School Board Members

$12,365 X 2 New School Board Members = $24,730

Benefits Est $24,730 X 1.35 = $33,386

 

But wait, Senator Gardenhire is sponsoring a bill to double the school board members' pay. So, assuming the Gardenhire bill passes, the taxpayers will incur additional costs that will potentially be $68,564 X 2 = $137,128.  Yep, $137,128 more cost to the taxpayers, providing about $2,100 in direct pay a month to the elected to work part time.

 

Then, another cost associated with the 11-district plan raised its head this month. It is assumed that each new district will require new precincts, plus additional sites for early voting.  What is that cost?  It is somewhat unclear, although the Election Commission sought additional funds of $259,000 for three new early voting sites.  It is believed that the new districts will require additional resources from the Election Commission. 

 

What is the cost to the Election Commission for two additional county districts?  Does anyone know?

 

If Gardenhire’s bill to double school board compensation passes, the cost of the 11 redistricting will be:

 

2 New Commission Seats= $68,564                       

2 New School Board Seats = $68,564

New Precincts Election Commission = Unknown at this time

 

We can see what the bill costs after the bill is passed.  I believe that all associated expenses from the 11 redistricting plan should have been disclosed prior to adoption.

 

As County Commissioner Warren Mackey has pointed out, "It does demand some answer in the sense - did we grow government just now?"

 

Yes, Commissioner Mackey, the Republicans on the County Commission grew government. 

 

In closing, the 11-district plan is a farce, as nine districts have been doable in similar historic growth. 

 

April Eidson


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