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Mayor doubts census count

CHELSEA (AP) — Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven challenges the federal census figures on his fast-growing city, claiming the numbers may be off by thousands.

The mid-year U.S. Census Bureau population estimates for 2006 had Chelsea’s population at 3,700, up 84 from 2005. Niven and Shelby County officials believe the actual population to be more like 7,000.

If local officials are correct, Chelsea would rank as the state’s second fastest-growing city behind Calera, also in Shelby County.

“It could even be 8,500,” Niven said. “That’s more of a reality.”

The problem is the information, or lack of it, the Census Bureau has received from the city, said Annette Jones Watters, manager of the State Data Center at The University of Alabama.

Each year, surveys are sent to cities requesting updated information on the number of residential building permits issued and annexations, among other information.

“If they aren’t turning in those numbers then they (Census officials) don’t know,” she said. “This isn’t uncommon, especially in small towns.”

Shelby County handles Chelsea’s building permits, and David Hunke, the county’s planning services supervisor, said he is working with Chelsea to provide the Census Bureau updated information.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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