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Commission districts stay the same
New Census data taken into account
county district map
This map shows how the five Barton County Commission districts are divided. They will remain unchanged for the next three years.

Although the population has changed some in the five Barton County Commission districts, the boundary lines last set in 2018 will remain the same for another three years, it was decided at the commission meeting Monday morning. At least once every three years, the commission must review districting to assure that each of the five is as compact and equal in population as possible. 

“It is time we look at them,” County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said. State statutes mandate the County Commission review districts regularly.

However, “we don’t have block numbers from the 2020 Census,” Portions of the city fall into districts 2, 3 and 5, and she is having to use percentage data to make an estimate.

So, based on this information, she recommended no change in district boundaries, just the populations numbers were updated. The districts, their population and representative commissioner include: First District, 4,817, down from 5,240, Kirby Krier; Second District, 4,972, down from 5,309, Barb Esfeld; Third District, 5,394, up from 5,755, Shawn Hutchinson; Fourth District, 5,374, down some from 5,737, Jim Daily; and Fifth District,5,222, down from 5,639, Jennifer Schartz.

As for the county as a whole, the Census showed the population in 2019 to be 25,779, down from 26,111 in 2018 and 26,476 in 2017. The numbers indicate that each of the nine cities in the county recorded a dip in population, as did all but two of the 22 townships (Liberty gained one and South Homestead gained three).

Zimmerman said more accurate pin-pointed numbers may be available by year’s end, but these won’t likely have an impact.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

•  Approved a resolution establishing County Commission districts. 

At least once every three years, the commission shall review districting to assure that each of the five districts is as compact and equal in population as possible, said County Clerk Donna Zimmerman. 

• Named Ryan Oeser at Independent Township clerk after the resignation of Bridget Beran. 

The remaining Independent Township board members nominated Oeser, and by state law it is the commissioners’ responsibility to make the appointment. The term ends in January 2023.

• Heard a departmental update from County Attorney Levi Morris.

He discussed case numbers from 2020 and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on his office.

• Approved contracting with The Master’s Touch of Spokane, Wash., for the bulk mailing of valuation notices for the Appraiser’s Office at a cost not to exceed $6,500. 

For 2021, the office utilized the new procurement portal to receive quotes from vendors to print and mail Barton County’s 2021 real estate valuation notices, said  County Appraiser Wendy Prosser. Work involves the creation of notices, mailing labels and envelopes.  

• Held a pair of brief executive sessions to discuss matters involving non-elected personnel. Included in the session with commissioners were County Administrator Phil Hathcock, Assistant County Administrator/Clerk Donna Zimmerman, Appraiser Wendy Prosser and County Counselor Patrick Hoffman.

After the sessions, no action was taken.