Central might contest 2010 Census count

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POSTED: Monday, February 21, 2011 - 6:23pm

UPDATED: Monday, February 21, 2011 - 6:48pm

CENTRAL, La (NBC33) -- Central officials say the 2010 Census numbers aren't where they should be in their city, and some wonder if maybe the count was inaccurate.

Rick Shaffer has lived in Central his entire life. He's watched the small town grow for years. "Since it became a city, I know the school system has grown by leaps and bounds," he says.

In 2000, Central's population was at 26,646. The 2010 Census shows the Central only grew by about 200 people. "I know that can't be correct," says Shaffer.

David Barrow with the City of Central agrees. "We've grown by more than 200 people," he says. Barrow says the numbers seem off. "I was thinking along the lines, and this is just me personally, that we'd have grown by a thousand or maybe 1,500."

The city has the proof to back up their claim. "We don't feel that's accurate based upon the number of new subdivisions that we have out here and the growth that we're seeing in our school system," says Barrow.

Why the concern over a potential population miscount? The census affects local representation and the amount of money cities get from the government. More people means more money.

"For the first time, it means we can start getting some federal dollars for projects," says Barrow. But that amount of money might be small if their population count stays where it is.

The city plans to compare the numbers with the census breakdown of the area. "We can analyze the individual tracts and take some areas where we know there's growth and compare them with their findings," explains Barrow.

Depending upon the results, the city might appeal the count. "It's not something that we're going to rush into," he says. "It's something we have to make sure we have accurate data to contest."

It's a great idea for folks, like Shaffer, who worry the small city will lose money if the count doesn't show a bigger number. "We're not going to get any money," he says. So, Shaffer says he'll do what it takes to help the city show they've grown. "I'm willing to help them if we have to go door to door to get signatures to do that."

The Census Bureau will accept challenges starting June 1st of this year. Central officially became a city back in 2005. It is one of at least four other muncipalities in South Louisiana planning to appeal the 2010 Census count.

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