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BYU-Idaho student count at root of Rexburg's census challenge

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Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:48 pm

REXBURG — The city officially challenged the latest census count, and officials think the 2010 Census count is far below their projections, which affects the area’s legislative representation.

After each census, a city will project an estimated population for the next census. Employees at the Rexburg City Hall and members of the City Council made an estimate population count that matched the projection 10 years ago, but it is about 5,000 people above the 2010 Census count.

“It’s being officially challenged right now,” said Scott Johnson, who is in charge of economic development and public relations for the city of Rexburg. “Our CFO, Richard Horner, is the one in charge of that. He’s sent a challenge to the state level and also the national level.”

At the public hearing on redistricting June 10, Idaho Redistricting Committee Commissioner Evan Frasure of Pocatello said the population for Madison County was 37,836. Rexburg Mayor Richard Woodland testified at the meeting that the city was challenging the number, saying it was low because of a miscount of Brigham Young University-Idaho students.

“What we are looking at is really the timing of when they took the two counts,” said Johnson. “It looks like they took the first count at the end of one track for students, and then second at the beginning of the next track.”

The spring enrollment for BYU-Idaho is a total of 14,296 students, a 9 percent increase over last spring, according to BYU-Idaho. The huge increase in actual students at the Rexburg university over the decade since the previous census, has officials thinking the census count wasn’t accurate.

As soon as the population numbers are finalized for other cities, Rexburg’s challenge will be considered by the state’s redistricting committee.

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