City population prompts ward boundary change

The Vermillion City Council has approved, on its first reading, an ordinance that moves the boundary shared by the Central and Southeast wards from Yale Street to University Street. The bold line drawn between the two wards signifies the new boundary; the crosshatched area on the map represents the portion of the former Southeast Ward that will shift to the Central Ward. This change will greater equalize population numbers in the citys four wards. (City of Vermillion Graphic)


The combination of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the results of the 2010 U.S. Census means a slight redrawing of Vermillions ward boundaries must take place.

The Census determined that the 2010 population of Vermillion is 10,571. That places the ideal population for each of Vermillions four wards at 2,643.

Currently, the population distribution among the citys wards is less than ideal. The number of residents has grown in all areas of Vermillion with the exception of the Central Ward, which, according to Census figures, has 316 fewer people than in 2000.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equality of voting powers, City Finance Officer Mike Carlson told the Vermillion City Council at its Aug. 15 meeting. The courts have interpreted this as an honest and good faith effort to create districts or, in our case, wards, as equal in population as practical.

Carlson told aldermen that court decisions have determined that a deviation of greater than 10 percent (in a ward or district) would be improper apportionment. We need to look at this after each census, he said.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the Northeast Ward has grown by 2.23 percent in the last decade, from 2,592 in 2000, to 2,702 in 2010.

The Northeast Ward has seen a 2.12 percent growth in population, from 2,466 in 2000 to 2,699 in 2010.

The greatest population increase in the last 10 years has occurred in the Southeast Ward. Its 2000 population was 2,532. That number has grown by 5.94 percent over the last decade, with a 2010 Census count of 2,800 people.

The latest population data is not nearly as positive for the Central Ward. Ten years ago, the U.S. Census recorded 2,686 residents in that ward. The 2010 Census has revealed that there are 316 fewer residents living in that area of the city; its 2010 population stands at 2,370, a decrease of 10.33 percent over the past 10 years.

If the wards were equal, wed have 2.600 people in each ward, Carlson said. Looking at the ward boundaries as we have them right now, it shows a total deviation of 16 percent, with the largest negative being the Central Ward at 10 percent and the largest positive being the Southeast Ward at just under 6 percent.

As such, we need to change the boundaries, he said. The city council looked at this at the July 5 noon meeting, and we worked with SECOG (South East Council of Governments) in getting some maps put together showing the population. The option we were looking at is moving the ward boundary between the Central and Southeast (wards) from Yale Street to University Street.

This boundary shift will increase the Central Ward population and decrease the population of the Southeast Ward.

The population redistribution between just those two wards would decrease the total deviation from the ideal number in each ward from 16.27 percent to 4.84 percent.

This proposal keeps the majority of the ward boundaries intact. Carlson said, It doesnt displace any existing council members and it brings the deviation within a percent that complies with the 14th Amendment.

The Vermillion City Council approved an ordinance on its first reading Aug. 15 to make the recommended boundary change. The change means 226 people currently living in the Southeast Ward will find themselves as new residents of the Central Ward.

It will also make the populations of those two wards nearly equal. Resident numbers in the Central Ward will increase from 2,370 to 2,596. The number of people living in the new Southeast Ward will be 2,574, compared to the 2,800 that lived in that ward before the boundary shift.

Registered voters affected by moving the boundaries of the Central and Southeast wards will receive notice of their new ward residencies from the Clay County auditors office.

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