By Terry Schrimscher
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville City Council listened to options for redistricting for city elections during the pre-meeting work session on Monday night, October 4. Brett Isom presented options on behalf of the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPC).
“You’ve got seven council single-member districts, seven council seats which is a little bit unusual for a town the size of Springville,” Isom said, “but it was a necessity in order to guarantee and try to maintain a majority-minority district.”
In 2011, the city council voted to maintain the seven districts with the understanding that District 1 would have a larger population deviation than is normal to preserve minority representation in the district. According to RPC profiles, much of the population growth has come from new construction since that time.
“If you wanted to keep seven single-member districts, probably the deviation would have to go up. You’re looking at District 1 having about half the population as the rest of the districts,” Isom said.
Isom proposed several alternative voting strategies for the city, including ranked-choice voting and cumulative voting. He also mentioned the possibility of reducing the number of seats on the council to five at-large positions.
“I think seven is way too many seats for a town this size,” said Council Member David Vinson. “I’d like to go to five at-large; however, you did the voting. So that would be my preference and the only way you’re going to make it fair,” Vinson said.
“Plus, I have a little bit of an issue with districts because when you’re in a district, you want to represent that district at the cost of the whole city,” Vinson added. “Whereas if you’re at-large you/re here for the whole city and you’re representing the whole city. That’s my take. I’ve always thought that was a better way to do it.” Vinson currently represents District 2 in the city.
During the regular session, the Council approved a $5000 contract, plus hourly rates, with RPC to draw up proposals for redistricting the city. The proposals will be presented and considered at a later meeting. Final approval of the contract is pending review by City Attorney James Hill.
According to their website, the RPC “provides planning services, economic development services and multiple initiatives for six counties and 84 communities throughout central Alabama.”
In other business, the Council also approved Fire Chief Richard Harvey’s request to replace a vehicle destroyed in a fire at a repair shop.
The Council also approved the Witches Ride on October 30. The ride will take place at noon and feature entrants dressed as witches. Entry fees will benefit local soccer programs.
The Council held public hearings for alcohol sales for The Farmhouse restaurant and Springville Chevron.
Members of the Council discussed the proposed FY2021-2022 budget, which will be taken up at a future meeting. A special meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, October 11, to discuss vehicle needs and the proposed budget.
City Attorney James Hill closed the meeting with an update on city garbage disposal services. The Council approved a resolution in September to re-open bids for the service. Since then, Waste Management, the current vendor, has offered to extend services through the end of October. Hill said he hopes to get a temporary contract for 90 to 120 days to provide services through February.
“We’re going to submit that proposal and hopefully at the next meeting have something for you to consider that will be a contract from November 1 until the end of February,” Hill said. “In that window, we’ll send out the bid that will hopefully be for a three-year period of time and provide y’all something at the end of February to approve for that three-year window.”