Douglas County commissioners to consider changing district boundaries to better reflect census

It’s that time of the decade again, when the Douglas County Commission must consider adjusting its districts to reflect the latest U.S. Census population data.

County commissioners will discuss how those numbers will play into redistricting at its meeting at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday. A public hearing will be held on three proposals for adjusting the commissioner districts so that each has roughly the same number of people.

Douglas County is divided into three districts, with one commissioner representing each. Updated Census numbers show that each district should have roughly 36,942. Today, district three’s population is about 9 percent larger than that, while district 1 is nearly 9 percent smaller than that. At 36,873, District 2 is just a little smaller than it should be.

District 1, represented by Commissioner Mike Gaughan, is contained within Lawrence. District 2, represented by Commissioner Nancy Thellman, includes part of Lawrence, all of Eudora, all of Baldwin City, and part of unincorporated Douglas County. District 3 is represented by Commissioner Jim Flory, and contains part of Lawrence, all of Lecompton, and part of unincorporated Douglas County, most of it west of Lawrence.

At their earlier 4 p.m. meeting Wednesday, commissioners will consider asking the city of Lawrence to pay for 66 percent of an upgrade to the Douglas County Emergency Communications Center. The upgrade is expected to cost nearly $7 million and is required by the Federal Communications Commission, which is mandating emergency communication centers around the country upgrade to narrowband frequency channels, which are said to be more efficient. Lawrence and the county currently share the center’s operating costs, with Lawrence paying 66 percent and the county paying 34 percent, but it is unclear who would be responsible for the upgrade.