U.S. Census numbers: County may appeal '10 population

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON — Newton County officials are reviewing data released by the U.S. Census Bureau to determine if an appeal is warranted.

Census 2010 information was released earlier this month, showing Newton County's population at 99,958. Officials had anticipated it would top 100,000.

The county's Geographic Information System department is reviewing and comparing data. Already, three blocks have been found where census numbers appear to be incorrect, said Board of Commissioners Chairman Kathy Morgan. The census data shows just one person living on those three blocks. Two of the three blocks have apartment complexes that are at or near full capacity, and the other block has about 18 single-family homes, Morgan said. County officials estimate there are about 100 people living on those three blocks. Other blocks are being reviewed for similar discrepancies, Morgan said.

The blocks are near the Rockdale County line, and it could be that residents who are actually in Newton were counted in Rockdale, she said. There are some subdivisions that fall partly in Newton and Rockdale, and those will be reviewed as well.

Whether the county files an appeal will depend on how wide the gap is between census estimates and county estimates, Morgan said.

"If we show 100 people and they show 88, we're not going to object to that. (We're not going to appeal) unless we find lots of obviously glaring mistakes," she said. "If they're off by 1,000 people, that would warrant at least an effort for discussion."

An appeal will have to be done through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The county has 90 days to appeal following the release of census data.

In addition to being the basis for redistricting on the local, state and federal levels, census data determines funding appropriations to the county, and the 100,000 mark is an important one in Georgia, Morgan said. While there may be more funds available for counties with a population of 100,000 or greater, there is also more scrutiny, she said.

"I just know that 100,000 is a trigger in Georgia for requirements. Even though there may be an increase in appropriations available to us, there also will be increased costs. We want to have an accurate count so we have an accurate representation of the citizens of our county and we're providing services for an accurate number of citizens as well," she said.