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Buda sets criteria for single-member district change

Buda took another step towards transitioning to single-member districts Jan. 18 by setting criteria for which seats will make the change first.

But one city council member raised concerns over the use of 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data to help with drawing district lines.

Buda City Council Places 2, 4 and 6 were randomly drawn to be the seats that will first make the switch to single-member districts via a special election in November.

Paul Daugereau, Wiley Hopkins and Evan Ture currently are the incumbents for those respective seats and could opt to run for reelection. Their respective seats would have staggered terms of 3 years, 2 years and 1 year.

The process for the transition began when Mayor George Haehn drew one of two envelopes containing which council seats, even or odd, would be transitioning to single-member districts.

C. Robert Heath with Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP discussed the redistricting criteria, the process and the timeline with council members.

Heath said the drawing of district lines would be most likely based on the population total recorded at the 2010 census, along with more current population data for Buda. According to U.S. Census Bureua Data, Buda’s population went from 7,295 in 2010 to an estimate of 15,023 in 2016.

The districts should not exceed 10 percent deviation in numbers of size, Heath said.

Council member Lee Urbanovsky was skeptical that the 2010 census could be a reliable estimate of Buda’s current population.

“I was against this from the beginning, I voted no to single-member districts,” Urbanovsky said.

“We’re going to try to make a plan as constitutionally sound as we can,” Hyde said.

Heath said the next steps for Buda in transitioning three of the council seats to single-member district seats would be to meet with the city council again in late February or early March to develop a proposed illustrative plan.

Next, the illustrative plan will be presented to city council and the public around March 20. The public input process would begin April 1 and continues until May 1.

Heath estimated that if everything went smoothly during the previous steps, the plan should be ready to be finalized and adopted around May 15.

Haehn was supportive of the transition process, but wanted to send a clear message to Buda residents that no matter what voting district they eventually fall into, they have equal representation from every member of the Buda City council.

“I do want us to make sure that everyone knows we all serve the entire population of Buda no matter where someone lives,” Haehn said.

Possible guidelines for residents when submitting public input on the proposed illustrative plan include submitting comments in legible writing, including a name, address, phone number and email address if available, Haehn said.

If council adopts the finalized plan in May, that will give possible candidates for the November election time to review the new single-member district guidelines before the first day of candidate filing on July 21.

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