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By BETH ZUMWALT
Numbers recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau reflect what everyone feared.Of the 102 counties in Illinois, 87 lost population- Pike was among those dropping from 16,430 to 14,739.
Of the cities and villages in Pike, all but two lost population.Gains were negligible: Valley City gained two people in the last 10 years and Time added three. It was the same for townships, all except Levee which gained 7 and Cincinnati gained 3.
“I hoped they missed a few and we really did not lose 10 percent of our population in 10 years,” Jim Sheppard, chairman of the Pike County Board. “That is 1,691 people not shopping in our restaurants, businesses, buying homes, all the economic stuff.”
Shepard said another downside to losing people is that we are not replacing our talent pool of workers.
“I haven’t seen anything but the numbers,” Sheppard said. “But I’m guessing our demographics will show our average age of population has gone up.
The drop below 15,000 people means the county falls into the counties with lower populations, meaning instead of levying 00.27, the county can now legally levy 00.37
“That will generate an addition $270 million for the general fund,” he said. “I’m not saying we will do that but we may have too. We still have the same number of miles of road to maintain, the same services we are required to offer.”
The lower numbers could affect road maintenance for cities and the county.
“Motor fuel tax is figured on a formula based on the number of gallons sold in the city,” Chris Johnson, Pike County engineer, said. The county is based on the number of registered cars. Fewer people mean fewer gallons sold to fewer cars.”
Sean Rennecker, mayor of Barry, said he was pleased to see Barry only lost 15 people since the last census was taken in 2010.
“We think maybe it dipped lower than that and then maybe we are coming back,” Rennecker said. “There have been a lot of houses sold in Barry lately.”
Illinois State Senator Steve McClure said he is unsure if the recently released numbers will have him back representing Pike County or not.
When the Illinois Legislature voted last spring to approved a map outing the legislative districts in the state, both McClure and C. D. Davidsmeyer, representative for Pike, were re-located to different districts. The decision was made without the official census numbers and instead used numbers from he American Community Survey, in order to meet the June 30 deadline. Many including McClure and Davidsmeyer claimed the numbers from the ACS was unreliable.
“They should have filed for an extension on the June 30 deadline and waited for the actual census numbers,” McClure said. “Now the map has been voted on, The Constitution doesn’t allow for do-overs.”
The matter is already in court, protesting the numbers.
What McClure says should happen is a bi-partisan committee should be appointed to draw up anew map that is much more evenly divided.
“According to the Constitution, all districts should be within 5 or 10 percent of population in size,” McClure said. “With the new numbers we see that is not the case. I don’t know what will happen but the map we have now will not be the final map.
McClure isn’t sure what will happen with his and Davidsmeyer’s situation,
“Most of the problems with the numbers are in more heavily populated areas,’ he said. “I don’t know how far reaching fixing those problems will be.”