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BLOOMINGTON — An official count of how many people live in Bloomington could begin in February.

The city is making preparations for the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct the special census. A more accurate count means more state and federal money for the city because some funds are distributed on a per capita basis.

Normal is waiting for results of a special census taken in that community earlier this fall.

Chris Tomerlin of Bloomington's finance department said the city received notification last week that testing and training for local census workers is scheduled for January.

"If that goes as planned, we could have people out in the field knocking on doors by February," Tomerlin said.

Bloomington officials requested the special count because they believe the city's population may have increased by about 7,800 people since the 2000 Census.

The city estimates adding the additional people to the official population figure will generate another $700,000 a year in tax revenue every year for the next five years.

The city is paying $133,230 for the special census.

The census workers will concentrate on about 150 subdivisions on the city's growing east side, Tomerlin said. "We are looking at those areas where the city has seen the greatest growth," Tomerlin said.

Once the census workers are hired and trained, the count could take about 40 business days.

In Normal, that work is already done, said Geoff Fruin, administrative analyst for the town.

The town wrapped up its special census in September and is waiting for the results. Fruin said the bureau has told him it could take about 90 days to tabulate the results.

"We are hoping to get the results this month yet," Fruin said.

The census work went well in Normal, Fruin said, adding it was a "really smooth experience" because of cooperation from Normal residents.

If the town's estimates are correct, Normal could start seeing an extra $300,000 or so in revenue starting early next year, Fruin said.

Applications for census workers are still being accepted in Bloomington, Tomerlin said. Applications are available from the city's human relations department during regular business hours. Information about applications is available on the city's Web site, www.cityblm.org or by calling the city's census line at (309) 829-2691.

"We will be accepting applications all the way up to when the census bureau begins testing," Tomerlin said.

The city hopes to receive more than 300 applications. From that number, Tomerlin said the bureau will hire about 60 employees who will work for the city.

Tomerlin said the city also is preparing office space for the bureau.

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