Nelsonville Remains A City After Successfully Completing Its Own Population Count

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NELSONVILLE, Ohio (WOUB) — Nelsonville kept its status as a city, and the state funding that comes with it, after a local recount of the population found 5,373 residents live there. It is enough to keep them above the 5,000 dividing line that separates a city from a village under state law.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose accepted the results of the recount process, referred to as an enumeration in state law, Tuesday morning from Nelsonville Auditor Taylor Sappington.

The city began the enumeration process as a way to challenge the results of the 2020 Census, which claimed Nelsonville’s population dropped to 4,612.

Nelsonville had 15 days to complete this recount and submit it to LaRose once the city council made the decision to move forward on Sept. 27.

The enumeration does not change the results of the 2020 Census or how the federal government views Nelsonville’s population.

But keeping the city status is important for Nelsonville because of how the state grants funds to cities versus villages.

Nelsonville relies heavily on these funds for its infrastructure projects like the sewer plan and an overhaul of its main thoroughfare, Canal Street.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose presents a proclamation to representatives of Nelsonville accepting their enumeration numbers
(L to R) Nelsonville Auditor Taylor Sappington, Jason Coen, Nelsonville Fire Chief Harry Barber, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Nelsonville City Manager Scott Frank with the proclamation that the city’s enumeration was accepted. [Benjamin Schwartz | WOUB]
The 1953 state law which enabled Nelsonville to begin the recount process is short and vague — which Sappington believes helped the city meet their deadline.

“Though the statute is vague and probably from years ago, one of the things I like about how it was designed was it required the city to kind of delegate authority to this committee who then brought in all these people from their separate corners,” said Sappington. “So it was kind of designed perfectly for a city our size, because it brought everybody in. It wasn’t just one or two people doing everything, and we don’t get a lot of opportunities to see everybody working together like that.”

It’s also the reason behind LaRose’s office’s speedy certification of the re-enumeration.

“It’s a ministerial process for us. We don’t have, like, a group of auditors who go out and check their work, that’s not what the law lays out,” said LaRose. “They have stated again under law that they have over 5,000. They’re giving us the evidence of that as we speak, and there’s not some sort of an investigative effort that we undertake then to double check their math. When you state in an affidavit that this is factual, then you’re expected to be speaking the truth, and of course we believe that they are.”

That ministerial process took around twenty minutes to complete, with LaRose returning shortly after Sappington’s submission of the city’s new population count to confirm the results. Nelsonville will remain a city until at least the completion of the 2030 census.