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Provo wins its census challenge

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PROVO — For the second straight year, Provo is bigger than the federal government thought.

The U.S. Census Bureau has accepted Provo's challenge of its July 2005 estimate of the city's population, city spokeswoman Raylene Ireland said Tuesday.

The bureau revised its estimate upward from 113,459 to 115,135.

"We have completed our review of the submitted data and are pleased to inform you that we have accepted your challenge," Enrique J. Lamas, Chief Population Division, U.S. Census, wrote in a letter to city officials.

Provo moved past West Valley City this year to become Utah's second-largest city.

Last year, the Census Bureau estimated Provo had 99,624 people but later revised that number upward to 111,718. Provo believed then that it had 115,112.

"It is critically important for Provo to have an accurate census count," Mayor Lewis Billings said in a statement. "The city's population count has a direct impact on the distribution of federal transportation monies and state income tax monies."

Provo isn't the only Utah County city to see an upward revision.

Earlier this summer, the Census Bureau raised American Fork's estimate from 21,372 to 25, 131. Salem went up from 4,725 to 5,519. Mapleton got an increase from 5,972 to 7,001 and Elk Ridge bumped up from 1,926 to 2,251.

Provo submitted its challenge in July. The challenge included information on the number of building permits issued and the number of residential dwelling units created.

Additional information on group quarters included data on the population in student dorms, group homes, facilities for the elderly, the Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Utah State Hospital.

"We submitted the informal challenge to the Census Bureau to make sure that they had all of the information that pertains to an accurate count of our population," Gary McGinn, Provo city community development director, said in a statement. "We were confident that once they took a look at our numbers, they would revise their estimates. It's gratifying to have the challenge accepted, and we appreciate the opportunity of working through this issue with the Census Bureau."

Provo had 105,166 people, according to the last census, taken in 2000. The Census Bureau creates annual estimates of population each year but won't conduct another census until 2010.

E-mail: twalch@desnews.com