New Census numbers out for Ottumwa, Wapello County

The new census numbers are out, and the results are mixed for Ottumwa and Wapello County.

The county saw a loss of 426 people; about a 1.2 percent decrease. However, the city of Ottumwa had an increase of 25 residents and now has a population of over 25,000. The Hispanic population is the fastest growing minority in the area.

One reason for the population decline in the county is unemployment figures. But County Supervisor Greg Kenning says the small decline while unfortunate, wont have a major impact. "Anytime you have a loss in population, you stand to lose any funding that is based on population. I have yet to see whether losing 400 plus citizens would cause us to lose things like any road use money for the city or county. I don't think we'll see any dramatic change there either."

But the new numbers could influence representation. "As populations start to shift, you'll start to see a shift in things like legislative districts as well. That's one thing we're going to have to do in Iowa because our population did decline. We'll see a shift in our congressional district. So we're going to go from five to four."

City Administrator Joe Helfenberger says the slight increase for Ottumwa is about average for cities with Ottumwa's population. "I looked at our comparable communities. Some of whom have gone down a little bit in similarly populated cities, and some have gone up. So we're status quo as far as if you looked at 10 cities of similar population in Iowa."

Kenning and Helfenberger also pointed out a small margin of error due to residents who did not fill out the census.