Montgomery County commissioners approved an agreement with the law firm Bickerstaff Delgado Heath for redistricting services related to county precincts.

Precinct 4 Commissioner James Metts and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley were absent from Commissioners Court due to a state-required training.

County attorney B.D. Griffin presented the agreement, which would pay the firm $6,500 for preliminary analysis. Griffin also said that the maps must be approved by Nov. 12 to be used in the earliest possible elections.

“If we go ahead and act quickly, we should be able to make it by the deadline,” Griffin said.

According to the agreement, Bickerstaff Heath will analyze data from the 2020 U.S. census. If commissioner precincts are determined to be out of balance, the firm will provide a presentation and budget to commissioners regarding further plans.

Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack asked Griffin whether failure to draw maps by the deadline would incur a penalty. Griffin said the county would have to rely on old maps, and there would be no penalty for missing the deadline.

Noack also proposed a workshop for commissioners to work further on the process before the deadline.

According to the 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision Avery v. Midland County, Texas county commissioner precincts must be adjusted to have a maximum 10% deviation in population size between the largest and smallest precincts.

The 2020 census showed growth for Montgomery County populations, including those who identified as Asian alone and general Hispanic or Latino populations. The county also bucked a statewide and national trend by recording an increase in populations identifying as white alone. In terms of total population, Montgomery County ranks 11th in the state with a population of 620,443.