July 14-- The city of Vidalia needs to make some changes in its city ward lines to equalize the population based on the 2010 census, however, there may not be enough time to get it done in time for qualifying in September and the voting in November.
"There's a long process you have to go through in order to change your charter to address the new wards. We have to give three weeks notice in the paper and have two regular city council meetings to give the public a chance to see what's going on. Then we have to send it to the Justice Department with a 60-day review time there. With our qualifying time in early September, we may very well end up using the wards we have now this year because we simply don't have time to make the change," reports Vidalia city manager Bill Torrance.
Based on the new census, Ward Three represented by Councilman Raymond Turner was under-populated by more than 600 people and required a transfer of citizens to get it on a more even keel with the other three wards.
Councilwoman Lisa Chesser's Ward Four was more than 400 people overstrength which led to a transfer of people to the Third Ward along with some smaller numbers from the First and Second Wards.
The redistricting would also place current Third Ward school board member Doug Roper in the First Ward and move the First Ward member Bruce Asberry to the Third Ward. If the city is unable to make the ward changes in time for the November election, both Asberry and Roper will have to run for election in their current wards.
Torrance says he's been advised by the Georgia Municipal Association that many towns and cities in the state are facing the same problem with the time it takes to redistrict. Officials says receiving the census data in May did not give them time enough to meet the legal deadlines regarding redistricting.