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Mayor Koos says Town of Normal will likely seek and pay for a special census

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Staff
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WGLT

Normal Mayor Chris Koos said Friday the town probably will seek and pay for a special census count next year because early census numbers show Normal gained only 28 people in the last decade.

"We're concerned that the numbers really may not reflect what happened," said Koos, adding the pandemic may have shifted the reliability of the count.

He said the result is at odds with Normal's much better job at capturing the college student population in the U.S. Census count. Historically, he said the town was able to count just 45-50% of ISU students. He said the university helped a lot last year.

"We were fairly confident that we had 100% in that number, so that alone gave us cause to worry. Plus, the fact that Rivian has brought a lot of people into the community," said Koos. "And it doesn't seem like that is reflected in the numbers."

He admits some businesses have reduced their employment over the decade and it's possible that offset the greater efficiency in the college count.

"There is certainly some forces that have happened to the community in the last 10 years. State Farm has had significant out-migration of employees and we certainly acknowledge that as part of the issue," said Koos.

The mayor said the town will have to wait for more detailed information about each census tract to come out before drawing conclusions, adding Normal is not alone. Other communities around the state and nation have been disappointed with the early results of the census, Koos said.

"This census has been problematic from the start and been chastised publicly for not running an accurate census," said Koos.

Illinois' population shrank in the last decade. Demographers said the state is about in the middle of the pack for states with out-migration. The birth rate is below the replacement rate, but that is true for the nation. Death rates are comparable, too. Demographers have said where Illinois lags is attracting new people to come to the state, ranking well below average among other states.

Koos said it is up to the town to provide a high quality of life with amenities that people use and enjoy as a way to attract residents, adding he. he thinks Normal has had some success in creating that environment.

Census numbers are used to set reimbursement rates and some federal grant amounts.

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