Census 2010: Prisoners give Anamosa a boost - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Census 2010: Prisoners give Anamosa a boost

ANAMOSA (KWWL) -- It might not have crossed your mind, but Iowa's prison population is also a big part of the census. Many rural towns depend on prisoners to add to their overall population.

Prisoners make up about 25% of Anamosa's official population. That comes into play with the city budget, especially with projects like road repairs.

Anamosa's population is 5,494 (as of census 2000); that's if you count the nearly 1,300 prisoners at the state penitentiary. Without them, Anamosa would be population 4,209. It's an important boost financially.

"If we were to lose the prisoners in that count, we would lose roughly 20% of our road use tax revenue that we vitally depend on to fix our streets and storm sewers," City Administrator Patrick Callahan said.

"Our streets serve the penitentiary, and our storm sewer system. They also are connected to our sanitary sewer system, so we do provide a number of services to the penitentiary. And as most people know, the penitentiary doesn't pay property taxes, so the one big advantage to having it within city limits is their population," Callahan said.

Another prisoner plus in Anamosa, they drive the town's population over a crucial 5,000 mark.

"There is a federal highway program that communities over the population of 5,000 get an allocation of every year for street improvements. In fact, this coming summer, we intend to use our allocation to pave our major thoroughfares through the community," Callahan said.

From a county perspective, Anamosa gets around a quarter of county local option money, used primarily for downtown district projects. If the prison population wasn't counted or fell, that money would also fall.

Looking ahead to census 2010, Anamosa's prison is down in numbers from Census 2000, by about 250 prisoners (as of this day), perhaps pushing Anamosa closer to that important population 5,000 mark.

The Iowa Department of Corrections says they have not done the official census count of prisoners yet, but they have a plan in place to get those numbers soon.

This year, the Census Bureau will release the prison data earlier, which could impact redistricting for political purposes, like the number of representatives we have in congress. The decision to count prisoners for redistricting is a state-by-state decision.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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