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2 cities to challenge counts

W. Bountiful, Provo plan pleas; Sandy, Centerville won’t

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Two Utah cities will appeal their 2000 Census counts, and two others have abandoned plans to challenge the numbers.

Specific block-level population data will be released Wednesday, and Provo and West Bountiful city leaders say they will definitely appeal if they have evidence they believe will prove their cities were undercounted. Centerville and Sandy leaders, who previously said they may challenge the numbers, now say the Census Bureau count was probably correct and that their estimates were off.

On Wednesday, the Census Bureau will release to the public another wave of numbers, including everything from detailed group quarters populations, even more detailed racial and age data to the number of same-sex unmarried couples living together in Utah.

Provo officials are waiting to get their hands on numbers for group quarters broken down to the block level. Vern Keeslar, Provo's long-range planner, says the city had estimated it had more people living in group quarters than the Census Bureau counted. It was the 7,000-person discrepancy in this count that baffled city officials when census numbers came out earlier this year. The city ended up being ranked the third largest in the state behind West Valley City when officials predicted it would be the other way around.

College dorms, nursing homes, youth detention centers, state hospitals and prisons are among those units that qualify as group quarters, according to the Census Bureau. Provo's Missionary Training Center would also be categorized as a group quarters. Keeslar says he is confident the bureau missed one or more of these institutions in Provo, but he won't know which until Wednesday's numbers are released.

"We need to see the block group, that geographical subset, before we know what they missed," Keeslar said. "There's no question. If we find the discrepancy that we think there is . . . there will be an appeal."

West Bountiful city manager Wendell Wild says his city has also been waiting until the data comes out to find out where residents may have been missed.

"We knew that would be coming out. We'll review it and see where we're at," he said. "We're still feeling that things are not right."

City leaders were surprised when the 2000 Census results reported the population had grown by only seven residents since 1990.

City leaders will study the block-level data that comes out to find out which areas went uncounted, if any, and what changes need to be made. If there are discrepancies, Wild said the city will challenge the Census Bureau in hopes of getting a new population count.

Cities across the nation began submitting their protests to the Census Bureau on June 30, the first day the bureau would accept appeals, and will continue to do so for the next couple of years.

It could be six weeks to several months before cities have an response from the bureau and possibly longer before they receive an official certificate with the new population count, though the bureau this year established a new procedure for responding to appeals that should expedite the process.

After months of consternation, Sandy officials have found nothing to appeal about the 2000 Census and will accept their 88,418 population count.

"The big things we looked for just weren't there," spokesman Chris Hillman said.

The only discernible reason for the discrepancy between the census figure and previous estimates of more than 101,000 people was the numbers of people per household, which ended up being lower than officials had estimated. And besides, census rules do not allow an appeal of the people-per-household figure, which means that Sandy will simply have to accept the smaller size estimate.

"We're a city of 88,000-90,000," he said. "We're resigned to that."

The same goes for Centerville, which probably won't challenge the 2000 Census count after all, now that leaders have discovered that the population number was probably right on.

City officials looked at records kept by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and verified the number of homes through the city's utility and sewer records.

The average household size went from 3.81 people per home in 1990 to 3.52 people per home in 2000. While the city may still look into the number of unoccupied housing units the census reported for the city, that still might not boost the population number by more than a couple of hundred people.

Contributing: Josh Loftin

E-MAIL: ehayes@desnews.com