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Redistricting work is fully under way in St. Croix County

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The proposed new boundaries for a reduced number of supervisory districts in St. Croix County is moving right along toward the final plan.

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"It has to be done in November to prepare for the April 2010 elections," said Ellen Denzer, senior planner with the county planning and zoning department, "because candidates take out papers on Dec. 1."

Previously, the supervisory districts were re-aligned after the decennial census (every 10 years) to ensure equal representation on the county board for all residents.

In 2005, a Wisconsin statute allowed the county board to reduce the number of supervisory districts between 10-year official census totals. The law went into effect Jan. 20, 2006, and local voters approved a referendum last November to reduce the board from 31 to 19 members by an overwhelming 31,460 to 9,358 margin.

Fewer supervisors accordingly mandated a reduced number of supervisory districts. Work on the new district boundaries is nearly finished, Denzer said last week. The county board is expected to OK the latest proposal at its April 21 meeting. "The ordinance is in place," Denzer said.

A county map of the new districts with detailed areas will be available soon on the county Web site.

However, there are a few misconceptions.

Each of the 19 districts represents as close to 3,324 people as possible.

"That's not just registered voters in each district," said Denzer. "That's every man woman and child in each district."

With 31 districts, the number was closer to 2,100.

St. Croix County is well ahead of the pace since the new plan doesn't have to be adopted until Nov. 15.

When the final plan is approved, County Clerk Cindy Campbell will file it with the secretary of state; then her work begins as each municipality makes adjustments.

"It's a challenge every spring to make sure the candidates are correct on each ballot," Campbell said.

The more lead time the better.

"Voters are required to register and will be re-assigned to new supervisor districts for the first time," said Denzer.

Since the change came as a result of a vote last November, there is no budget for the redistricting, Denzer said, which creates a fiscal problem.

Another factor is that redistricting must be set up according to the official census numbers from 2000, and Denzer said an estimated 15,000 more people live in the county since the last decennial census.

So after the redistricting for next spring's elections is over, there will be a new national census in 2010.

"The official numbers will be out in 2011 for the 2012 election," said Denzer. And then the process starts over again to re-align district boundaries to match the numbers from the new census.

It's logical that everybody will lose a supervisor with the total reduction in numbers, but citizens will have equal representation in each district on the county board, said Denzer.

For more information and detailed maps, visit www.co.saint-croix.wi.us. The front page has a link to the redistricting plan.

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