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Braselton votes to accept new district map

BRASELTON - The Braselton mayor and two city councilmen voted unanimously Thursday to accept a redistricting map that equalizes the number of households in each council district.

But the new map is not yet a sure thing.

Because the move creates an amendment to the town charter, Georgia law requires two votes, the second of which will be held 4 p.m. on Thursday in the community center.

Braselton's districts were redrawn four years ago after the 2000 Census. Braselton's city limits sprawl across four counties - Barrow, Gwinnett, Hall and Jackson - but most of the growth is taking place in Hall and Gwinnett. That lopsided growth has given Councilman Dudley Ray 767 homes in District 4, more than all three remaining districts combined.

District 1 is composed of 107 homes; District 2, 119; and District 3, 138. The new district map, if accepted by a second vote, will give each district approximately 300 households apiece.

Not only has that put Ray in the position of representative for the majority of Braselton, the current map could also jeopardize the upcoming Nov. 8 election.

"We cannot go into the election with the current map because it violates the law," Graham said.

Braselton's map violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives each individual equal protection under the law - or one man, one vote, said Linda Meggers, former head of the Georgia Reapportionment Office, who drew the proposed map.

With less than five months before the election, city officials must work quickly to get the proposed map legalized prior to the election Nov. 8, and Braselton's unique geographical location puts them at a timely disadvantage. Law requires the proposed redistricting be advertised three times, and Braselton must advertise in the newspapers of four counties. Because the Jackson Herald is a weekly newspaper, advertising will take three weeks, City Clerk Jennifer Scott said. Combined with council members' upcoming vacations and the time it takes for legislators to scrutinize and approve or reject the map, Braselton is cutting it close.

"If we miss our window and don't get a map to the General Assembly, the election could be challenged," Graham said.

Two council members live in Jackson County, one in Barrow and one in Gwinnett. Voters will elect a mayor and council members to represent Districts 2 and 4 on Nov. 8.

Braselton to present

proposed budget

City councilmen will vote Monday to accept or reject the proposed 2006 budget.

The 2006 budget shows $2.4 million in the general fund, an increase of about $300,000 from the $2.1 million of 2005. Building permits remain the number one source of income for the general fund, reflecting Braselton's rapid growth.

The proposed budget reflects spending for two additional employees; a maintenance employee, an employee to do soil erosion inspections and a four-wheel-drive vehicle for that job. Spending for Braselton Park maintenance will increase due to more community events being held at the park. Spending for municipal court will decrease because the city hired a prosecutor who charges a lower fee than the previous one.