Batavia could seek special census after city officials question 2020 U.S. Census findings

Wilson Street in downtown Batavia.

Batavia city officials are questioning the results of the 2020 U.S. Census after it revealed that the city didn’t gain many new residents over the past decade. The city could seek a Special Census if a review shows that there were errors in the original census.

“The great question that popped its head up was the release of the U.S. Census,” said Batavia Mayor Jeffery Schielke. “I think that’s way off. We had a lot of new housing built in that ten-year period. We had plenty of activity, but we didn’t seem to be able to find any new residents?”

The city’s population increased by just 53 residents over a ten-year period beginning on April 1, 2010, and ending on April 1, 2020, according to the United States Census Bureau.

The 2020 U.S. Census data, which became available in July, will be updated in December of this year.

Census results are a determining factor in the government funding a municipality will receive.

“The accuracy of those numbers is so important because municipalities are portioned many types of funding both at the state and federal level according to their population size,” said City Administrator Laura Newman. “If the number is lower than accurate, then we’re missing out on those dollars of funding.”

The city plans to continue to review the data before taking any action. A municipality can request a Special Census from the United States Census Bureau if it’s believed that the data in original one was incorrect.

The requesting municipality is required to pay for a Special Census, according to the United States Census Bureau.

“They were indicating to us that they didn’t think they would be in a position to do any special censuses until the latter part of 2023,” Schielke said. “It may be a couple years where we are going to be receiving revenues based on a number that I think has some pretty strong indications that something got missed.”

“The first thing that we want to do is go over our census results to make sure there isn’t any potential reason to appeal,” Newman said. “We want to make sure there weren’t any households who may have been accidentally left out of the count.”

The city also wanted to make sure that new residential developments, such as the recently finished Tanglewood Hills subdivision, were accounted for.

“And then we had several new senior living communities built,” Schielke said. “Windmill Manor and The Landings, they’re both over on the northwest side of town.”

It’s unclear for now how census-based funding will affect Batavia in the short term, but losses in federal and state funding sources could lead to an increase in property taxes, Schielke said.

“I’ve already suggested to the Batavia City Council that we need to fund ourselves a Special Census as soon as the Census Bureau is in a position to do that,” Schielke said.

Within the same ten-year period, St. Charles saw an increase of 107 residents. Geneva saw its total population decrease by 102 residents.

“I’m very anxious for Batavia to be recounted in a Special Census,” Schielke said. “I think it’ll be money well worth spent on our part.”