Senate OKs census fix

A plan to ensure that Rockwell City isn’t cheated out of road money because of a mistake in the 2010 census was approved by the state Senate Monday evening.

The proposal was written by state Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge.

”This correction has been a long time in coming and I appreciate your patience and assistance in rectifying the mistake,” Beall wrote in a Monday evening email to Rockwell City officials. ”I am pleased to be able to right this wrong.”

The measure states that whenever the population of any city is referenced in state law, the number to be used must be whichever is larger: the census or the annual estimate of resident population for incorporated places as of April 1, 2010. It also enables local officials to apply to the state for road money Rockwell City should have received dating back to 2010.

Beall’s plan was included in a package commonly called the standings bill which is acted on near the end of every legislative session. It now goes to the House of Representatives, where state Rep. Tom Shaw, R-Laurens, has pledged to push for the provision affecting Rockwell City.

Rockwell City has been shortchanged about $48,000 worth of Road Use Tax money every year since 2010 because the U.S. Census Bureau failed to count the inmates of the North Central Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison on the community’s east side.

The 2010 census results showed the population of the city dropping by 24.5 percent, or 555 people, since the 2000 census. The drop in population is nearly equal to the number of prison inmates.

The 2010 census counted 1,709 people in Rockwell City.

The 2000 version counted 2,264.

City officials filed an appeal with the Census Bureau in 2011.

Earlier this month, census officials acknowledged that the count for Rockwell City was incomplete. But instead of correcting the actual census count, those officials added 507 people to a different data set called the annual estimate of resident population for incorporated places.

That move gives Rockwell City a population of 2,216.