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posted: 8/11/2017 5:30 AM

Naperville pitching special census to increase population, tax share

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  • The Atwater subdivision on Naperville's northwest side is one area among 58 census blocks that the city plans to recount during a special census it is likely to pursue next year. The city estimates a new count could increase its population by roughly 4,500 people.

      The Atwater subdivision on Naperville's northwest side is one area among 58 census blocks that the city plans to recount during a special census it is likely to pursue next year. The city estimates a new count could increase its population by roughly 4,500 people.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

The time has come for Naperville to take another count of its residents.

Seeking additional revenue from the state because of a higher expected population than was recorded in the 2010 census, the city is likely to begin a special census.

Officials estimate the census could add 4,650 people to the official 141,853 population -- an increase that could bring in an extra $1.67 million before the next count in 2020 would go into effect.

"It's a good opportunity for the city," Mayor Steve Chirico said.

The special census would not count everyone in the entire city of 40 square miles, but would focus on 58 census blocks, largely on the still-developing northwest and southwest sides. It would cost an estimated $238,544 to complete.

"We tell them which areas to target," Chirico said. "Naturally, we're going to tell them the areas where we see the growth."

Housing growth is occurring on the northwest side in subdivisions such as Atwater, west of Route 59 between Diehl and North Aurora roads, and on the southwest side in several subdivisions near 248th Street between 95th and 111th streets.

Tallying a larger population could help the city reap more money from three taxes distributed by the state: income tax, local use tax and motor fuel tax.

The plan to seek a special census comes after the state decreased by 10 percent the amount of income taxes it will return to municipalities this budget year. The city stands to lose roughly $1.28 million, but the loss will be partially offset because the state is charging income taxes at a higher rate and will make payments faster than the typical two-month delay, Chirico said.

Naperville could recoup more of the lost revenue by increasing its official population, officials say.

If the city council approves the special census during a meeting set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St., the process likely would take 10 months, according to a memo from Kasey Evans in the planning department. The city plans to begin the census in spring 2018 and would expect higher revenue from a larger population beginning in March 2019.

Former city council member David Wentz asked the city to consider conducting a special census in November 2015. He said he wishes the city would have begun the process earlier to receive a larger share of taxes sooner.

But Wentz and Chirico both said uncertainty about the state budget -- especially whether and how much the state would cut the amount of income taxes it gives back to municipalities -- made it a good idea to wait. A few years' delay also allowed more houses to be built and more residents to move in.

"I can understand why the city is taking this move now," Wentz said. "The timing for this is probably right. I applaud the city for finally doing this."

The census bureau does not allow special censuses to be conducted during the years immediately before and after each decennial census.

Naperville's last special census, taken in 2008, brought in an additional $2.6 million during about two years. Before that, a special census in 2003 also garnered an additional $2.6 million. The city has conducted a total of six special counts since 1990 as its population has grown by 56,502 people, from 85,351 in 1990 to 141,853 seven years ago.

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