North Liberty plans to ask the federal government for an updated census to account for its growing population.
The City Council indicated in a recent goal-setting session that it will ask for what is known as a special census in the fiscal year that starts July 1, City Administrator Ryan Heiar said.
The 2010 census put North Liberty’s population at 13,374, but the city believes it now has about 15,500 residents.
The motivation to get a new count is to increase the amount of federal money the city receives. Census population counts are used to disburse more than $400 billion annually in federal funds, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
For Iowa towns, road use taxes are the primary census-determined money at stake.
Cities receive about $96 per resident in road use tax revenue this fiscal year, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
If North Liberty has grown as much as city officials think, that would be more than $200,000 annually in additional road money. That would make up in one year the estimated $160,000 North Liberty would have to pay for a special census.
Iowa City had been considering whether to seek a special census, but after some preliminary research, city officials decided the benefit is not worth the cost at this time, said Geoff Fruin, assistant to the city manager.
The city did not request a formal cost estimate, but it knows it would pay much more than North Liberty because of its size. The 2010 census put Iowa City’s population at 67,894 residents. The Census Bureau estimated it had grown to 70,133 in 2012.
“I think the larger the community, the harder it becomes to justify that expense,” Fruin said.