Hanford City Council approved a $45,000 contract with a company who will run the City’s redistricting process, but directed staff to move forward without a citizen advisory committee, during Tuesday’s meeting.
The Council approved a contract with Best Best and Krieger, a law office bidding out of an office in Irvine, California, who will be responsible for setting up all state and Census data, developing maps and demographics requirements, take in maps developed by the public and implement the redistricting changes once complete, among other responsibilities.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years after new census data is available to ensure districts have substantially equal populations, as well as follow a number of laws around political, racial and special interest community makeup.
City Manager Mario Cifuentez said when the issue was brought before council in June, they gave staff direction to consider using a citizen advisory committee in the redistricting process. He said the BBK contract did not include a committee because the company said it was too late in the process to get one started.
“Even without the time frame, too, it was feeling more redundant than necessary to go forward with that,” said councilwoman Kalish Morrow.
Now that the contract has been approved, Cifuentez said BBK will move forward with developing a website and setting up the public outreach strategy for the process. Because the City won’t be using a citizen committee, BBK included online mapping tools, so as to make it easier for the public to draw and submit maps.
Cifuentez said the process must be complete by April 17, 2022. BBK can’t start drawing draft maps before finalized data is available, which they anticipate will be out by the end of the month.
The City will legally have to hold one public hearing on redistricting before draft maps are drawn, and two after maps have been drawn, with at least one on a weekend day or after 6 p.m. on a weekday.
The Council gave staff direction on where to send the $13 million Hanford received in American Rescue Plan Act funds, $8.2 million of which they recommended go towards replacing lost revenue, $700,000 to go to public safety radios, $30,000 to City Hall COVID mitigation and $40,000 for community outreach.
Council directed staff to look into other potential areas to send the remaining ARPA funding towards, including infrastructure projects, bonuses for City essential workers and relief for local businesses.
They also approved $500,000 in funding for emergency repairs of two water wells in Hanford.