The Common Council Legal Committee meets today at 6:00 p.m. The major agenda item for the meeting is to be the issue of adjusting the ward boundaries to reflect population changes revealed by the 2020 census. By law, if the population deviation between wards exceeds 10 percent, the ward boundaries must be adjusted to achieve wards of equal population. Alterations to achieve equal population must be made before July 1.
Central to the discussion at tonight's Legal Committee meeting will be a memo received by the committee from Crystal Peck, legal counsel to the Council. That memo, which can be found here, maintains that reapportioning the wards is subject to a referendum, which would not happen until November.
The basis for the opinion is Municipal Home Rule Law § 23(2)(h), which states that a local law is subject to mandatory referendum if: “In the case of a city, changes the boundaries of wards, or other districts, from which members of the county board of supervisors, chosen as such in such city to represent the city, are elected.” The memo advises, "The Council also has the option of amending its Charter to change the manner in which County Supervisors are elected so that a referendum is not required." Exactly what that amendment might be is not entirely clear, but tonight's Legal Committee meeting should be interesting. The meeting will be a hybrid--taking place at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join remotely.
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