Shoshoni census count off by more than 100, town says

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 471 people live in Shoshoni, but town officials say that number is off – by more than 100 people.

“We came up with 576,” Mayor Joel Highsmith said during a town council meeting this week.

Shoshoni conducted its own census this spring after learning that there was no way to appeal the official number from the federal government – which “really botched” the 2020 count in Wyoming, especially for small towns, clerk Chris Konija said.

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“I have not heard from one town, not even one, that believes the census was done accurately,” he said earlier this year, adding, “That has wide-ranging effects on our communities.”

Population totals are used to calculate state funding allocations for local municipalities, he explained, so the discrepancy in Shoshoni could result in a significant loss of revenue over the next decade.

That’s why the town reached out to the U.S. Census Bureau after the 2020 numbers were published, asking what could be done to address the miscount.

The answer?

Nothing – at least not for five years.

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“We can pay, with our money, for a mid-decade census to be re-done in 2025, and then they’d adjust our official count,” Konija said.

Shoshoni plans to take advantage of that remedy – which could cost up to $10,000.

But until then, Konija said the town will have to adjust its budget to reflect a decrease in population-based revenues.

“(We’ll have to) get really creative as we move forward,” he said.

Shoshoni also wants to work with Wyoming legislators to see if there is some way to address the problem at the state level.

“We’re not the only town in this position in Wyoming,” Konija said. “There’s lots of communities that are adversely affected by the loss of population and the derivative loss of income.”

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