Dunbar ward boundary changes affecting an estimated third of the city's population are finalized, but the city clerk said voters' precinct locations will not change.
City Clerk Ross Harrison announced the completion ward realignments during Monday night's city council meeting. He said this became legal and effective Nov. 15, and that council members took final action in early fall.
While he did not have an exact figure as to how many residents will see a change in council representation, he estimated that one-third of them would be affected.
Mayor Jack Yeager said the last Census showed council representation was not equal. In one case, one ward had its council members representing 1,200 people, while another had its council members representing 700.
Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick informed the city it was not in compliance. The city has now adjusted boundaries so that there are roughly 2,000 people in each of the city's four wards.
Harrison said the city's four wards have had population shifts over many years. The shifts have primarily taken place because of more movement into the central part of the city, namely in Wards 1 and 2.
"It was a longstanding inequity," he said. "It probably should've been corrected years ago."
The boundary changes include the west and south of Dunbar Avenue in Ward 1 being moved into Ward 2, Harrison said. Ward 1 picked up two blocks from 10th Street, going west. Ward 4 has expanded northwest.
The only change that some voters may see, Harrison said, is a change in which city council members are representing them. The city worked closely with the county clerk's office to ensure that anything done would not affect other local and state districts. Polling places, he strongly emphasized, would not change for voters.
"You will still vote where you've always voted," he said.
However, Yeager was unsure about how that would work in some cases. He noted that he is a Ward 2 voter, and that will not change. But his precinct location has moved into Ward 3.
"There is still a question of whether voter locations will change," Yeager said.
No council members lost their seats as a result of the realignment, and no incumbent council members will have to run in a different ward during the city's March elections, Harrison said.
Harrison also said expenses were "miniscule" for this project. Because precincts did not have to be re-drawn, the city did not have to hire extensive outside help. An outside engineering firm drew the maps, which cost "several hundred" dollars, but most work was done in-house, he said.
Council members also:
* Approved a $1,500 contract with the state Department of Commerce to have city locations be part of the Midland Trail visitors' guide. Yeager said this allows the city to have two pages in the guide that feature its businesses and parks. While there is no exact figure on what the benefit has been, Yeager said he knows this makes a positive impact on the city because of the calls city officials get from travelers.
* Postponed voting on a new police contract. Yeager said the contract was completed, but there was not enough time to print the number of copies that were needed.