MORRISVILLE, N.C. — With its new homes and new neighborhoods, the town of Morrisville is not a sleepy community anymore. The latest state figures show nearly 6,100 people live in the town, but town officials believe that estimate is off.
They believe more than 11,000 people call Morrisville home.
"It didn't collect some of the development that took place in the last three years," town planning director Philip Culpepper said.
The state estimates the population of every city and town every year. The numbers are used to distribute sales tax dollars and road maintenance money. Morrisville thinks the state's numbers are inaccurate, so it hired the U.S. Census bureau to do a more accurate count.
The new census will cost the town of Morrisville $200,000. Leaders are so confident that their growth estimates are right that they do not think putting up the money is a gamble, but a good bet.
The town said its population numbers are on target because they keep track of water connections, building permits and certificates of occupancy. If the U.S. Census proves them right, they could gain an additional $300,000 a year in sales tax and road money.
"The citizens of this town have paid those and we just want our fair share to come back, and we will use those numerous projects that we have throughout the town," Culpepper said.
State demographer Bill Tillman cannot go to every city and town and count, so he uses a complex method to determine population. He believes it is better to be fair than accurate.
"If I'm off in North Carolina by 10 percent, as long as everyone is off by the same amount, the money is distributed fair," he said.
The state demographer said there is not extra money to give out if Morrisville ends up with a higher population count, which means Morrisville's financial gain will mean a financial loss for another Wake County town.