Redistricting could mean Washington County Board shakeupAll five of Washington County's elected commissioners could be on the ballot next year after county officials complete the once-a-decade task of redrawing commissioner districts next year.
By: Jon Avise, Woodbury Bulletin
All five of Washington County's elected commissioners could be on the ballot next year after county officials complete the once-a-decade task of redrawing commissioner districts next year.
And there's this twist, too: with Washington County still growing, commissioners could add two board members to their ranks in 2012.
Commissioners were briefed recently on the delicate task before them – reworking district boundaries in light of the 37,000 residents added unevenly across Washington County between the 2000 and 2010 census counts.
Once redistricting is completed next spring commissioners will find themselves on the ballot if their district's population changed by more than 5 percent.
District 1 Commissioner Dennis Hegberg of Forest Lake and District 3 Commissioner Gary Kriesel of Stillwater are already up for re-election in 2012.
The goal in redistricting, said Kevin Corbid, director of Washington County Property Records and Taxpayer Services, is to keep population on each of the five commissioner districts as equal as possible. With different rates of population growth across the districts -- and the need to fit commissioner boundaries to various city, state and federal election precincts and district boundaries -- that can be a difficult job.
"It's the new voters that are coming into your district and the voters that are leaving your district" that determine how boundaries will be altered, Corbid said.
Another option before commissioners: add two more seats to the board to compensate for Washington County's continued growth.
Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek represents District 2, which likely will have to shrink geographically because of population growth in its communities of Oakdale and Woodbury. Pulkrabek said he would "at least like to look at the options" of increasing the County Board to seven commissioners.
That move, though, would add more than $100,000 to the county budget, said Commissioner Lisa Weik, who represents Woodbury in District 5. If the count goes that route, she said, each commissioner should take a lower salary than the $52,713 they currently receive.
"If we have more commissioners, we'd have less to do," Weik said. "So, we should take less money."
Corbid said the county's redistricting effort won't begin in earnest until early next year, when state lawmakers are scheduled to complete congressional and legislative redistricting.
That's not likely to happen on time, however -- past redistricting efforts have ended up in the state courts.
The county's plan must be completed by May 28, 2012, no matter when lawmakers finish their job. Corbid said that means the county could be doing their work on a compressed timeline next year.