BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Groveland to see loss of power in weighted voting proposal
Public hearing on reapportionment plan is May 8
The Town of Groveland will lose more than half its voting power on the Livingston County Board of Supervisors in a reapportionment plan for weighted voting being considered by the board.
The county’s 17 towns are each allotted a certain number of votes, with the largest towns receiving the greatest number of votes – and with it, a greater percentage of voting power – when the board is required to adopt any resolution, local law, motion or proposition.
Counties are required to reconfigure their weighted totals following the completion of the 2010 Census.
The majority of Livingston County towns will see an increase in their allotted votes and most will also see an increase in the percentage of voting power they wield as the population increased by about 1,000 residents between the 2010 and 2000 Census.
But a change in Municipal Home Rule law will send Groveland from the middle of the pack among the county’s towns closer to the bottom. Since the last voting plan was enacted in 2002, reapportionment rules now exclude all residents in facilities under control of the state Department of Corrections. Groveland has the medium-security Groveland Correctional Facility within its borders, which can account for as much as two-thirds of the town’s population. The U.S. Census still counts prisoners residing in the prison, but state legislation essentially counts them — for constituency purposes — at home.
“You can’t lose or gain population based on being home to a prison,” said Livingston County attorney David Morris.
Groveland currently has 107 votes, or 5.99 percent of the voting strength, both the eighth highest of the towns. Under the proposed plan, Groveland would have 49 votes and 2.44 percent, dropping it to 14th among the towns.
A public hearing on the proposed weighted voting plan is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. May 8 in the Board of Supervisors Assembly Room at the Livingston County Government Center, 6 Court St., Geneseo.
With the exception of Groveland, the order of the towns’ voting power remained unchanged even as each of the other 16 towns saw their total number of votes increase.
In the proposed plan, Geneseo has the greatest number of votes, 308, and voting power 15.33 percent, when a simple majority is required. Geneseo’s voting power increases to 354 votes and 17.35 percent when a two-thirds majority is required.
Other towns, in order of voting strength for both simple majority and two-thirds majority, are: Livonia, Avon, North Dansville, Mount Morris, Lima, Caledonia, York, Nunda, Conesus, Springwater, Leicester, Sparta, Groveland, West Sparta, Portage and Ossian.
Caledonia and Lima did see small decreases in their percentage of votes in a simple majority. For a two-thirds majority, Caledonia, Leicester, Lima, Mount Morris, North Dansville and Sparta saw small decreases in voting power.
The proposed plan derives its vote totals using the same formula the county used following the 1980, 1990 and 2000 Censuses. The goal of the process is to create a weighted vote total with the smallest number of votes possible, but that also avoids the possibilities of ties, Morris said.
For a simple majority vote, the proposed weighted total is 2,009 votes, up from 1,752 votes. At least 1,005 affirmative votes would be needed for the board to adopt resolutions, local laws, motions or proposal, up from the 877 currently required.
For votes required a two-thirds majority, the weight total votes is 2,040, with 1,360 affirmative votes required for the board to take action. Currently, a two-third majority has 1,831 total votes, with 1,221 affirmation votes required for adoption.
The 2010 Census reported the county’s population as 65,393 people, up 1,065 people or 1.7 percent from the 2000 Census, when the population was reported as 64,328.
The Livingston County Board of Supervisors had deliberately held off from calculating its new apportionment based on 2010 Census numbers while a court case against the home rule law was being decided. The law had been challenged in court by Republican members of the state Senate and was upheld.