PATERSON, NJ - What changes will be made in Paterson's ward boundaries? Municipal officials took the initial step towards answering that question Tuesday night when the City Council hired a Pennsylvania firm to serve as consultant for the redistricting process.

Every 10 years, election officials must redraw the ward boundaries to reflect population shifts resulting from the most recent census numbers. Sometimes, that simply means a few blocks move from one ward to another. But the changes could be more substantial than that.

Officials have not yet made public the population totals the 2010 census produced for the six wards, nor which wards may have to grow or shrink.

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Preliminary meetings on the redistricting likely will be held next week at City Hall, officials said.

Late last year, a national Dominican group proposed a major change in the 4th Ward's boundaries, moving it northeastward to cover all of the Riverside neighborhood. The goal of the proposed change would be to create a ward in which the city's Latino community would have a better chance of electing a Hispanic person to the City Council. At present, census numbers show Latinos represent more than half of Paterson's population, but they hold just two of the nine city council seats and three of the nine school board positions.

The consultant hired to work with the election officials on the redistricting is Bondata Inc. of Hummelstown, Pa. The contract is for $37,600.