Council Challenges Census

By: Michael Gorsegner
By: Michael Gorsegner

July 18, 2005

The U.S. Census Bureau claims that the population of Charlottesville is declining. City Council voted unanimously to challenge these latest census numbers that show the city has lost more than 3,500 people since 2000. In a City of only 40,000 people, that could mean big budget cuts.

"There is a lot of...anecdotal information that really says there is something wrong with these census numbers," said Director of Neighborhood Development Jim Tolbert.

City Council decided to make a challenge to the U.S. Census Bureau figures that say the population in Charlottesville has declined. During the 2000 census, Charlottesville registered a population of over 40,000 residents. The latest numbers show around 36,600.

"If the census figure is lower, than we get significantly lower amounts of money in a variety of programs, education, all the way across the board," said City Councilor Blake Caravatti.

But it is not only funding that is affected by the lower census numbers.

"As people are looking at Charlottesville as a community that they want to invest and to live, if our population is declining, then that is something that's wrong with us," said Tolbert.

"I don't really feel like [the] perception in our community is that population is declining in any of our sectors," said real estate agent Benton Downer.

Downer says that while the feeling is not one of decline, the high price of real estate may be the reason for the shift in numbers. People may be moving to the surrounding counties.

"So it would not shock me if you said from 2000 to 2004 there has been some additional migration," he said.

Taking into account all of the factors, council voted unanimously to investigate the matter.

"I think that it is one those fights that if you don't fight, you don't have a chance at winning," Tolbert said.

The formal census challenge is due to the state by October 1st. The cost for local tax payers is very little. Tolbert said he has a group of summer interns doing the research. After the state reviews the application, they will make a formal assessment.

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