Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin presented a redrawn map of the city’s legislative wards at last week’s Common Council meeting.
Tobin presented redistricting information based on the U.S. Census data compiled by Cortland County planning director Trisha Jesset, ahead of multiple redistricting efforts that would shuffle federal, state, and county legislative districts based on updated population numbers from the 2020 Census.
In the past decade, the county lost approximately 5 percent of its total population, or 2,527 residents, and currently has a population total of 46,809. The city currently has a population of 17,556, according to the U.S. Census data.
“The intention is to make sure the wards have an equal number of registered voters in each ward,” Tobin said of redistricting efforts. He noted that wards should stay within 5 percent more or less than approximately 2,200 residents per ward. This number is the total Cortland population divided by the number of wards (eight).
The most noticeable change in the proposed map is an extension of the second ward, which would stretch all the way toward the city’s northern limits.
“By extending the Second Ward it gives the opportunity for the county to consider legislative districts that would represent residents in the city and most likely residents in the town of Cortlandville and potentially north into the village of Homer,” Tobin said. “It would be possible to keep city council members and county legislators consistent, and for those county legislators to represent people outside the city in addition to city residents.”
Tobin said this proposed map was viewed favorably by county planners.
“I feel the city gets ignored by the county frequently,” Tobin said. He noted that the new redrawn boundaries would force the county to pay more attention to city needs given that the new districts could allow for legislators to represent nearby towns as well as sections of the city of Cortland. “We are expected to fend for ourselves when it comes to a lot of items.”
As an example, Tobin mentioned the city’s significant contributions to occupancy tax, due to most hotels being within city limits.
“After the county takes a very healthy chunk of that money, it is distributed to a lot of worthwhile nonprofit organizations, but that money is generated in the city and taken outside of our borders,” Tobin said.
Council members Bruce Tytler (D 4th Ward), and Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) both noted they want to see a map of the proposed ward boundaries with street divisions that are easier to read.
The city council will further discuss the proposed ward boundaries at its meeting next Tuesday.