published Sunday, September 30th, 2012

South Pittsburg wins census appeal

Former South Pittsburg Mayor Mike Killian
Former South Pittsburg Mayor Mike Killian
Photo by Ben Benton /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. — When city leaders saw that the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 report showed the city shrinking by more than 300 people, they knew the count was wrong.

According to the original census, the town's population dropped from 3,295 in 2000 to 2,992 in 2010.

Last week, city officials got the news that 117 people had been added to the official 2010 number, bringing the total to 3,109.

In August 2011, Mayor Mike Killian said city officials "may have a little pain with it," but they had to follow up on getting the number changed because losing population costs money.

City Administrator Bently Thomas said he never realized how painful and time-consuming the process would be.

When he initially contacted census officials, Thomas told them the city's 2009 annexation of Irondale Road was left out of the count.

The appeal process, known as the Count Question Resolution Program, included submitting multiple forms, addresses, and maps showing the location of each residence, among other things, Thomas said.

"They kept coming back and asking for more and more documentation," he said. "It was pretty clear to me. Their maps showed Irondale Road outside our limits."

Even though the process took well over a year, Thomas said the fight was worthwhile.

"The reason that is so good for us is that we get state-shared taxes per capita per person that we have in the city," he said. "For this year, that was $106.25 per person."

The new count increases the city's revenue by $12,431, which will mean approximately $100,000 in additional funds for the city until the 2020 census.

"We're really happy it's done," Thomas said.

"They made it so hard that it made you want to quit. I continued bugging them and calling them, and I was insistent that this get done. It was definitely worth it, but I hope we don't have to do it again."

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