From the Sentinel: Redistricting plan shortchanges Rome, legislator says
The legislature is being shrunk from 29 to 23 seats following a public referendum in November. The proposed districts have a target population of 10,046. . . . Utica would have six legislative districts wholly within the city boundaries. The county’s largest city now has eight city-only districts. Rome would have only one district that is solely inside city limits while five would be city-town districts. Minority Leader Frank D. Tallarino, D-7, Rome, objects to this aspect of the plan. He says the population for Rome is large enough to have three districts within city boundaries.Mr. Tallarino raises an important point ... and people in Utica and Villages need to pay attention.
Viewed from the prospective that the county is a provider of municipal services (roads, police, 911, sewer, airport, economic development, etc.) all the municipalities within the county are not created equal. There are "taker" munis and there are "provider" munis. The Cities and Villages generally provide for their own services such as police and highway maintenance, but their residents also pay to provide such services to outlying areas, so Cities and Villages are "provider" municipalities. Towns, on the other hand are "taker" municipalities. Just drive through New Hartford and Whitestown in all the newly developed areas around Middlesettlement Road and you see blue county highway markers everywhere. People in Utica, Rome and the Villages pay to maintain these roads, but there are no county highways within the cities or villages.
Add up the populations of Oneida County's cities and villages and you come up with more than half of the population concentrated into urbanized areas But representation on and the outlook of the County Legislature is decidedly tilted toward the Towns. While it would be difficult to forge districts made up of far-flung villages, it is important that a majority of districts represent reflect a city/village perspective -- because the people in these jurisdictions are bearing the costs of duplicate services.
Diluting City of Rome with the Town of Rome dilutes the urban perspective on the County Legislature. While this is obviously bad for Rome it is also bad for Utica because Utica loses allies with those of similar interests.
The redistricting plan must be rejected. Rome needs more city-only districts.