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South Portland City Council approves redistricting plan

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South Portland City Council approves redistricting plan

SOUTH PORTLAND — With a squiggle here and a wiggle there, City Clerk Sue Mooney found the redistricting balance City Councilors approved at Wednesday night's meeting.

Along with the redistricting for City Council and School Board seats, councilors (with Councilor Melissa Linscott absent) unanimously approved issuing the last $9 million in bonds for the renovation and expansion of South Portland High School, and revisions to Chapter 15 of the city code governing towing and wreckers.

Residents in all five city voting districts can check maps on the clerk's page of the city website before the June primary election, but will also be notified by mail if their addresses have been shifted to another district.

The redistricting occurs as a result of the 2010 census, which counted city population at precisely 25,002. Mooney on Wednesday said she redrew some district boundaries to equalize populations at 5,000, but without displacing current councilors or School Board members.

But that was not the case with more than 95 committee and board members who had been appointed according to their districts. The displacements may be remedied by an ordinance revision that allows board and committee appointees to live in a district outside the one of their nominating councilor, while also capping the number of board and committee members residing in any district at three.

Some district boundary changes were minimal. For example, in District 1, a boundary was shifted from Pine to Sawyer streets between Chase Street and Broadway.

But the boundary shift on the western edge of District 2 is more dramatic, with all of Knightville and Mill Creek moving into District 3.

Towing

The revisions to the towing ordinance cover city-commissioned work at accident scenes or for other violations.

Ten towing companies are now licensed by the city and work on a rotation basis, and will be able to charge $100 for towing from crash scenes and $85 for towing from non-crash scenes. The previous rates were $65 for daytime calls and $75 for calls between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Towing operators will also be allowed to charge $80 for vehicles that are off the road or require special retrieval equipment. Vehicle storage fees were also increased to $30, from $25, but companies are required to submit receipts for city work by the 10th day of every month. The licensed companies will also have to provide lists of equipment to Mooney.

Borrowing

The bond issuance will also allow the city to refinance almost $1.9 million in 10-year-old debt for bonds to meet pension obligations, which could save the city more than $100,000 in interest payments. The new pension bonds will be sold with the school construction bonds.

Voters approved borrowing up to $41.5 million for the school renovation and expansion in November 2010. About $39 million will actually be borrowed, requiring interest payments of about $14 million.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.