Back to the drawing board

Feb. 12, 2013 @ 06:33 PM

OXFORD — The Granville County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education thought the redistricting plan they approved in September 2011 met all the legal requirements.

Now, 17 months later, they learn that it must be fixed.

Granville County Manager Brian Alligood said the federal government made a mistake in its count of inmates at the Federal Correctional Facility in Butner for the 2010 U.S. Census.

“The federal prison straddles the county line,” Alligood said.

Part of the facility lies in Durham County and part in Granville County. Almost 2,400 inmates who had been counted in Granville County in the 2010 census should have been counted as living in Durham County.

“Federal policy for counting dormitory residents is based on where the front door is,” Alligood said. “In state law, it’s where you lay your head.”

With almost 2,400 “residents” subtracted from the 59,916 population of Granville County, the nearly equal number of residents per district in the plan approved by both boards has been thrown out of balance.

Adam Mitchell of the Tharrington Smith law firm, which had been contracted to create the redistricting plan, had reduced the discrepancies between districts from as much as a 44.9 percent deviation from the ideal to under five percent in every case. The “ideal” district would contain 8,559 residents.

The loss of a sizable portion of the federal prison population causes District 3 to deviate 22 percent from the ideal, Alligood said. The boundary for District 3 is going to have the greatest change, but districts 5, 6 and 7 may also be affected, he said.

“We’ll go through the same process again,” he said.

A joint meeting of the commissioners and school board will be held at 7 p.m. on March 7 at the Granville County Expo and Convention Center to consult with Mitchell. A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 26 to offer residents an opportunity to react to a revised plan.

Mitchell estimated the cost would be less than $5,000, according to Alligood. The two boards will split the expense.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.