Pinal supervisors disagree on board expansion - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Pinal supervisors disagree on board expansion

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Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 3:19 pm | Updated: 1:37 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Under a new state law, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors will go from three to five members after the next general election.

But some county officials believe the method the law uses to create new districts - by community college boundaries - would carve unfair ones. The supervisors are scheduled to decide Wednesday whether to hire a lawyer to discuss the boundaries with the U.S. Department of Justice and other agencies.

However, Supervisor Bryan Martyn, the lone Republican on the board, says those who want to hire the attorney are just "playing politics." Instead, he says the board needs to move on and plan for the future of the county.

The law, which went through the Legislature this year as HB2101, requires any county with more than 175,000 residents in the 2000 U.S. Census to elect a five-member board at the next election. The previous threshold was 200,000 residents.

The county had a population of 179,715 in 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Its estimated population was 327,301 in 2008.

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The law stipulates counties follow the boundaries for community college district elections for supervisor positions until the next census.

In Pinal County, that would mean disparity in district sizes and makeup, said Board Chairman David Snider.

"There are, we believe, different issues in minority representation and other issues," Snider said. "(We want) to make sure we don't run afoul of the voter rights."

Snider sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer requesting she veto the bill before she signed it into law.

In the letter, Snider said the community college districts were drawn in 2001 and no longer reflect the population. He said the county will have information from the 2010 census in two years and will be able to create more balanced districts at that time.

Snider also wrote it would cost more than $1 million to add two new supervisors because the county would have to build new offices and hire employees. That's an "irresponsible burden" to put on taxpayers in the current climate, he wrote.

On Tuesday, Snider said since the law was signed, the county has moved past the financial issue. However, he said the way the districts would be carved is still a concern.

Martyn agrees using the community college districts for supervisor positions isn't the ideal situation. And he also agrees the timing is bad in terms of county costs.

However, he doesn't think the county should spend money fighting the law.

"We need five (supervisors)," Martyn said. "I'm of the opinion that the Legislature has spoken, the governor has spoken, now we're playing politics on this. Let's just move forward. Let's prepare for our future.

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