Johnson County leaders weigh redistricting options

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OLATHE, Kan. — District boundaries within Johnson County will likely remain the same at least through 2023.

During Thursday’s meeting, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to maintain district boundaries through 2023. 

Johnson County is broken down into six districts based on population. State law requires the commission to review district boundaries every three years to ensure each district is as equal in population as possible. 

The last time county leaders reapportioned commission districts was in August 2013. The last time the district boundaries were reviewed was in 2019, but no action was taken to reapportion the districts. 

Based on data from the 2020 census, the total population of all cities across the county grew by roughly 12%. The largest growth in population over the last 10 years was found in the city of Spring Hill (59% population increase from 2010), the city of Gardner (22% population increase from 2010) and the city of Lenexa (19% population increase from 2010). 

County staff said the goal is to have boundaries equally divided based on the latest census data to show each district representing approximately 101,644 residents.

Emily Vincent, assistant to the county manager, said commissioners can review district populations at any time, but the county is legally required to reapportion district boundaries once the population deviates by more than 10%. 

“A deviation of 5% or less has been considered acceptable and has been the county goal. A range between high and low deviations of less than 10% has been considered legally acceptable. Anything above 10% is considered not acceptable and redistricting would need to occur,” Vincent said.  

Commission District 3, represented by Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara, is slightly outside the county proportion goal with a deviation rate of approximately 5.25%. 

Due to upcoming election cycles, and county leaders being unable to adjust voting precincts as part of a redistricting process, 2023 would be the next time the commission is scheduled to review district proportions. 

Following the 2022 election, the commission may include several new members when reviewing district boundaries. 

When the commission reviews district boundaries in 2023, county staff will compile information based on the 2020 census to project population increases. Vincent said staff will use the Johnson County Automated Information Mapping System (AIMS) to calculate population based on the most recent census data as well as plot information from cities within the county. 

Commissioners have directed county staff to draft a resolution stating the board does not intend to reshape district lines in 2021. The commission will consider the ordinance on October 14.

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