Macomb wants a recount

The city of Macomb could see a spike in population this fall. That's if the city council approves of a special census request to the Census Bureau this month.

The city normally averages around 20,000 people, but it's the timing of the census that's dragging down the numbers of this college town.

"Historically, the enrollment of campus is higher in the fall than in the spring. And constitutionally, the census is conducted in the spring," Chad Sperry, the director for the Geographic Information Systems Center at WIU said.

Western Illinois University makes up a huge part of Macomb's population. But the numbers haven't added up in any census over the last 20 years.

"In spite of the very best efforts in technology improvement that the census bureau employed, we still believe there are people out there that aren't accounted for. It's our hope and desire to make sure it's an accurate count," Mayor Mike Inman said.

In 2010, the census revealed only 19,288 people called Macomb home. The city hopes to bring that number up with a recount - a special census that would take place in the fall, when enrollment is up again.

"For every person we can account for in the community, it's added revenue for the city. And in this day and age, we need to make sure we capture that revenue as much as we possibly can," Inman said.

Macomb has requested a special census twice before, after the numbers came out in 1990 and 2000.

The GIS team at WIU spent months looking into the under-represented areas around the city.

"What we were able to do was use all of our GIS data, looking at addresses, looking at apartments, looking at past census results and trying to identify where we thought undercounts had taken place and where growth had occurred," Sperry said.

Sperry believes the city will gain anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 people with a fall census.

"Everyone counts in the census and it means money for the city. That's the bottom line," Sperry said.

Inman says once the council approves the request, the city will have to wait to hear back from the Census Bureau.

The city has previously spent about $100,000 for the recount. But in turn, the city could see an extra $110,000 every year until the next census.