Leavenworth County commissioners were unable to reach an agreement Tuesday on a map for new commission district boundaries.

Leavenworth County commissioners were unable to reach an agreement Tuesday on a map for new commission district boundaries.

Commissioners are attempting to draw up the boundaries for five County Commission districts after voters approved the expansion of the commission from three members to five.

The traditionally three-member County Commission currently is down to only two members following the recent resignation of former Commissioner Louis Klemp. Klemp resigned after coming under fire for remarks he made during a Nov. 13 meeting.

Last week, the remaining two commissioners were presented two maps to consider for redrawing the district boundaries. Commissioners were presented the same maps again Tuesday.

The difference between the two maps concerns Alexandria Township.

One map has the township included in what is being called the new 5th District with Tonganoxie, Reno and Sherman townships as well as the cities of Tonganoxie and Linwood.

The other map has Alexandria Township included in the 2nd District with High Prairie Township and a portion of the city of Leavenworth.

County Clerk Janet Klasinski said including Alexandria Township in the 5th District will create a variance in population between districts of about 2 percent. She said including Alexandria Township in the 2nd District could create a variance in population between two of the five districts of about 20 percent.

Klasinski asked commissioners if they could settle on a map during Tuesday’s meeting. The county clerk said she could then draw up a resolution to be voted on when commissioners meet Dec. 11.

Approval of the resolution will start a timeline for a process that will result in a special election for commissioners from the two additional districts.

If a resolution is approved Dec. 11, the special election likely would take place March 5.

“The decision must be made on the map by Dec. 31,” Klasinski said.

If commissioners cannot reach a decision by then, the matter will be referred to Leavenworth County District Court, and a judge will set the new district boundaries.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith seemed to favor the map that includes Alexandria Township in the 5th District. He suggested this should ward off legal challenges.

Senior County Counselor David Van Parys said he cannot guarantee there will be no legal challenges. But he said including Alexandria Township in the 5th District would reduce the disparity between the population of the districts.

Commissioner Bob Holland said he does not care for this option.

When asked, Holland indicated he had concern about including Alexandria Township, which is traditionally considered to be part of the northern half of the county, in a district with townships from the southern half of the county.

Smith, who currently represents southern Leavenworth County, said the people who sold the idea of a five-member commission argued the southern part of the county needs more representation. But he said there is not enough population in southern Leavenworth County for the area to be divided into two districts. He said one of the new southern districts has to include a portion of northern Leavenworth County.

Smith said he has visited with a few people who live in Alexandria Township. Two of them feel Alexandria Township has more in common with Tonganoxie, Reno and Sherman townships than the city of Leavenworth.

Smith said another person he spoke with prefers the option of including Alexandria Township in the 2nd District.

Jeff Culbertson attended Tuesday’s meeting. He retired last week as the director of the county’s Geographic Information Systems Department. He said commissioners should not get hung up on either map. He said the map commissioners approve will be temporary.

He said the districts will change as new census data becomes available.

“We’re trying to hit a moving target,” he said.

Culbertson was recently elected to represent the County Commission’s 1st District. He will begin serving in that office in January.

Klasinski said both of the maps that have been presented to commissioners were drawn up based on 2017 population estimates.

According to Klasinski, these estimates are based on information that originates from the U.S. Census Bureau and comes to the county through the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office.

Holland argued that data from the 2010 census should be used for redrawing the districts. He said nobody knows what the current population is.

Van Parys said an opinion from the Kansas Attorney General’s Office indicates the county should use the most recent Census Bureau data. Van Parys said the law requires commissioners to evaluate whether redistricting is necessary at least every three years.

“It is an ongoing process,” he said.

Klasinski said she can come back to the commission next week with two different resolutions for them to consider.

Smith said this probably would be best.

Klasinski said she will prepare resolutions that list the boundaries outlined in both maps.

Local Republican precinct committee men and women are scheduled to meet Dec. 17 to select someone to fill the vacancy for the County Commission’s 2nd District that was created by Klemp’s resignation.

Republican officials will be free to nominate anyone, but some believe Vicky Kaaz is the likely choice to fill the vacancy.

Kaaz recently was elected to represent the 2nd District and she is scheduled to take office in January.

If Kaaz is appointed to fill the vacancy, she would be able to take office in late December.

If Smith and Holland are unable to agree about the five-district map, Kaaz could end up casting the deciding vote.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR