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Panel to craft redistricting plan that reduces the Legislature to 17

A committee will be appointed today by Cattaraugus County Legislature Chairman Michael T. O'Brien, R-Portville, to decide on a redistricting plan that will reduce the Legislature to 17 members.

O'Brien said he has spoken with leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties about the plans, and both sides agree a reduction of four legislators from 21 is agreeable.

Based on the 2010 Census, the population of the county has decreased by 5.1 percent to 76,689. The population in 2000 was 83,955.

The county now has 10 legislative districts and legislators are considering a reduction to eight districts.

With several proposed plans around and no specific details made public, speculation is that single-person districts and two-person districts are being considered. Another scenario places three legislators in the Olean area and two each in the remaining seven districts, for total of 17.

The City of Olean, with a population of 15,347 is currently in a district with the Town of Olean, population 2,029, and part of the Town of Allegany, and has five legislators.

The City of Salamanca, with a population now of 6,097, is in a district with the Town of Salamanca, population 544, and the Town of Red House, and has two legislators.

O'Brien said during a meeting of the Legislature on Wednesday that he will appoint only legislators to the panel and no members of the public. The final plan adopted by legislators will go on the ballot in November but not become effective for four years, the next time legislators are elected.

All legislators' terms are up this year in November, and several are restricted by term limits to seeking another term.

In a brief session, legislators accepted bids for public works projects, renewed contracts and made several personnel changes.

Social Services Commissioner Wendy Bourgeois was reappointed for a five-year term. Her salary for 2011 is $91,841.

Joseph Grube, of Holly, recently retired from the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office, was hired as a communications consultant from May 1 to April 30, 2013, at the rate of $30 per hour on an as-needed basis for communications projects. O'Brien noted that Lt. Eric Butler of Salamanca was promoted to captain to replace Grube.

With only Legislator Patrick J. Murphy, R-Cattaraugus, absent, legislators approved a bid from Duflo Spray-Chemical Inc. of Lowville for aerial spraying for insect and mosquito control. Funding is provided by participating municipalities, including the cities of Olean and Salamanca, and the towns of Allegany, Carrollton, Great Valley, Hinsdale, Olean, Portville and Randolph -- most located near the Allegany River.