Harris County Outlines Next Steps in Redistribution Transition Process

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Map files obtained from the Harris County District Attorney’s office show the approved boundary change from the 2010 census to the 2020 census. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

Harris County Commissioners approved new maps as part of the redistribution process on October 28, but officials said moving agreements, staff and assets from one neighborhood to another takes time . County officials said the deadline for the transition of responsibilities was officially only January 1, 2023, but commissioners agreed the transition would be completed by March 31.

The four commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding stating that existing services can continue within the confines of the compound that were in place before the approval of redistribution plans until the first quarter of 2022.

“The MoU basically says, ‘Hey, let’s all play well and work with each other for the next few months for some kind of transition,’” said Joe Stinebaker, communications director for Precinct 4.

Commissioners agreed that continuity of service was a top priority during the transition, which has already started. Harris County Administrator David Berry said if two ridings come to an agreement by March 31, they could transition.

County officials initially proposed a 90-day transition plan to be completed by Jan.31, but acknowledged it could take significantly longer due to significant changes and the upcoming holiday season.

Constituency 2 commissioner Adrian Garcia said the commissioners had worked well together in previous redistribution transitions and expressed confidence that this could be done successfully again.

District 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle and District 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey stepped back, saying previous transitions had been very different. Cagle said the vote on the new cards has always been unanimous and that the two Republican commissioners spoke of the drastic “turnaround” of their two constituencies.

“I don’t think there was ever a redistribution that displaced 2.3 million people. That’s what we’re talking about here, ”Ramsey said. “So the scope of that, even though it’s been done before… it’s going to be just one of those historic things.”

County First Deputy District Attorney Jay Aiyer said the memorandum of understanding was intended to ease the transition process and clarify matters for county employees and community members.

“This is a voluntary document; it does not require collective legal action. It is an expression of the cooperation of the individual members of the court, ”Aiyer said.

Berry recommended working on centralizing some county services during this time, including fully implementing 311 technology across the county; have a common website and service portal with a single domain name; centralization of IT needs such as data management and security; identify possibilities for modification and expansion of the transport program; and the development of a county-wide electric vehicle pilot program. He noted that work on all these initiatives has already started.

Commissioners have asked Berry to return to court with proposals for these programs to be implemented by January 31.

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