- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

FISHERS, Ind. (AP) - Leaders of several rapidly growing Indianapolis suburbs are planning special census counts in hopes of claiming a bigger share of state revenue.

State funding is typically based on population numbers the U.S. Census Bureau collects once a decade. That doesn’t allow for adjustments in growing communities like Fishers and can cost municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

That’s why Fishers, Carmel, Whitestown and Westfield have each decided to spring for special certified census counts - either partial ones that target specific growth areas or full population counts.

“We’re taking control by doing this and making sure that we’re getting dollars that would normally get distributed to us,” John Rogers, director of enterprise development for Westfield, told the Indianapolis Business Journal (https://bit.ly/1Hj7XY1 ).

The special census counts could pay off for the communities, giving them bigger shares of taxes from the motor vehicle highway fund, cigarette and tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and gambling revenue. But they also carry the risk that the communities could spend more on the counts than they’ll get in additional revenue.

“Timing is real important,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. “You want to get as much growth as you can.”

The census costs vary widely, with estimates ranging from $80,000 for Whitestown to as much as $1.2 million for Fishers depending on the approach the communities take.

Officials in Westfield, which the Census Bureau estimates has grown nearly 18 percent since the 2010 count, plan to spend $625,000 on a full special census. Rogers estimated the city will receive $330,000 annually in new revenue if the population is close to 38,000, as city officials predict.

Whitestown officials estimate they’ll see new revenue of $190,000 a year if their predictions of a population of about 5,600 hold true. They also plan a full count.

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness said the estimate for a full census was $1.2 million, and the city is waiting for an estimate for a partial census. He said city officials think the lower-cost partial option will still be effective in bringing in more state dollars.

“By the time you get to the seventh or eighth year in the census, you might have added 15,000 to 20,000 people,” Fadness said.

Carmel plans a partial census because growth has stopped in certain areas of the city.

“We’re not growing as fast as we were in the past,” Mayor Jim Brainard said. Still, the city estimates it could receive an extra $275,000 a year if its population figures are updated. A special census in 2007 cost $900,000 but netted the city $2.4 million after the count showed a nearly 35 percent population increase.

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Information from: Indianapolis Business Journal, https://www.ibj.com

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