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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2008

Mayor finds 21,734 more Toledoans than Census

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Finkbeiner Finkbeiner
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The city of Toledo's population is greater than 316,000 people - higher than both the last U.S. Census Bureau population estimate and even the city's official 2000 census count, Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner claimed yesterday.

"After counting the numbers, we have determined that Toledo's population stands at 316,763. This is an increase of 21,734 over the Census Bureau's earlier estimate," Mayor Finkbeiner said at a news conference inside a near-downtown warehouse converted into a loft home.

Toledo's 2007 population officially was 295,029 - down 0.9 percent from the 2006 estimate of 297,806.

The mayor said the city in September filed an official challenge to the 2007 estimate with the Census Bureau. "The number of people living in buildings like this has gone uncounted," he said regarding 110 South Superior St. - the home of Bill and Ann Albright, owners of Swan Creek Candle Co. downtown.

The new population estimate has been verified by Social Compact Inc., a Washington-based nonprofit organization, the mayor said.

To arrive at the new figure, his administration examined building permit data and net increases in the number of newly constructed and converted housing units from 2000 to 2007.

The mayor said he was skeptical of the Census Bureau's July, 2007, estimate, which dropped Toledo's population count further below the 300,000 mark. The 2000 census listed Toledo's population at 313,782.

"It just didn't seem possible that Toledo's population could drop so drastically in seven years," the mayor said.

Having a higher population is important because communities get a percentage of federal dollars based on population.

Last year, 61 political subdivisions successfully challenged their 2006 census estimates, including Detroit, which went from 871,121 to 918,849 people, and St. Louis, which went from 347,181 to 353,837. Cincinnati challenged its 2005 census estimate of 308,728 and it was revised to 331,310. New York challenged its population estimate for three consecutive years, each time receiving a bump.

Gregory Harper, a demographer with the Census Bureau, said challenging estimates is not difficult for cities. "We tend to get more requests as the decade goes along," he said. "In terms of the places that request the material, it's probably in the range of 100 a year, but not of all of those places submit the change material."

Mr. Harper was unsure how many cities, if any, were unsuccessful in a challenge.

Hugh Grefe, senior program director for Local Initiatives Support Corp., said an increase in the population count would allow Toledo to attract businesses with more ease. "If we can show evidence that we are not in the downward spiral associated with older manufacturing cities, that will always help us," he said. "The number is not as important as the direction it is moving."

A governmental unit can challenge its population estimate by writing a letter indicating its intent within 180 days of the estimate's release and finishing a worksheet or providing other data indicative of population change and associated estimates. In July, Mayor Finkbeiner announced a new effort to count more Toledoans in 2010, the next time there will be a U.S. Census.

At the time, he said his administration had identified 1,400 addresses not recorded on the census bureau's address list and, subsequently, 4,000 people were not included.

Toledo, Cleveland, Dayton, and Akron all lost population in 2007 over 2006, the most recent census estimates show. Cleveland lost 5,067 in that period, the nation's greatest decline.

Contact Ignazio Messina at:

imessina@theblade.com

or 419-724-6171.



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