2010 Census Parish gains a little; St. Gabriel, a lot

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

The City of St. Gabriel, adding subdivisions homes by the day, was the big winner in population, adding more residents since 2000 than the parish as a whole has over the past 20 years.

Newly released 2010 Census data shows St. Gabriel gained 1,163 residents between the 2000 and 2010 counts, moving its population from 5,514 to 6,677.

Iberville Parish's population grew from 32,505 in 1990 to 33,320 in 2000 to 33,387 in 2010. Among the state's 64 parishes, Iberville ranks 33rd in population.

The population has shifted from unincorporated areas to municipalities. Three of the parish's six municipalities– St. Gabriel, along with Rosedale and Plaquemine, -- gained population. Maringouin lost 13 percent of its population; White Castle and Grosse Tete each lost over three percent.

“We've done even better than the census indicated,” St. Gabriel Mayor George L. Grace Sr. said last week.

Since the census was taken, the city has issued 41 building permits, 23 in the new Spanish Lake Subdivision, 11 at Radier Place and others around the city.

“Those places are constantly being built, even in the bad economy,” Grace said.  He said he is working on bringing in a new Manchac Place subdivision with 278 houses and four multi-family apartments.

St. Gabriel's census numbers include a state prison population of some 3,200, giving it a “free population” about half the size of Iberville Parish's largest city, Plaquemine, which gained 55 residents, just under one percent in population, giving it a 2010 population of 7,119.

The Village of Rosedale gained only 40 residents, but that was a gain of 5.3 percent.

L. Phillip Canova Jr., city attorney for both Plaquemine and St. Gabriel, provided the municipal census data to the parish government, with a request for an adjustment in the distribution of the revenues one-cent 2006 sales tax shared by the parish and the six municipalities. The sales tax proposition voters passed guarantees the Iberville Parish Council half the tax, but prorates the rest by population. (The state prison population is excluded.)

“On behalf of St. Gabriel and Plaquemine, we are seeking a percentage of 2.541% currently allocated to the parish,” Canova wrote. “Though I can't speak for Rosedale, I assume they will want the same.”

Parish Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. “Lucky” Songy Jr. said he has forwarded the information to the parish's bond council for review. After that, he and Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. said they would set up a meeting with the municipal officials.

“I'm happy that some of these towns grew marginally,” Ourso said. “Only 67 new people came into the parish.”

The federal and state government use census counts in allocating grant funding. The numbers also are used for redistricting local government bodies every 10 years to conform with the U. S. Supreme Court's “one man, one vote” rule.

The 13-member Iberville Parish Council is under a tight deadline to draw up a new districting plan and have it approved by the U. S. Justice Department in time for the fall elections.

The council's reapportionment consultant, Glenn Koepp of Redistricting LLC, presented the newly released U. S. Census Bureau numbers at last week's council meeting. He said Monday he would provide the first maps to the councilmen in about a week.

Koepp said he was working to get information on the prison population, including a breakdown by race.

“I'd love to have the prison population, so we know how much citizen growth there actually is,” he told the council. “I understand they (the prisons) are at the maximum.”

Since prisoners don't vote in local elections, they can be excluded from the redistricting plan. Including the prison population, the ideal population for a Parish Council district is 2,568, according to Koepp's figures.

Both Parish Council districts on the Eastbank (District 4 now represented by Leonard “Buck” Jackson and District 13 represented by Wayne M. Roy) showed growth, one of 2,037 and the other 286.

Three Westbank districts showed growth – District 9 represented by Terry J. Bradford, District 10 represented by Louis “Pete” Kelley Jr. and District 11 represented by Timothy J. “Tim” Vallet of Rosedale.

“The rest showed negative growth,” Koepp said.

He provided a breakdown of the parish's 2010 Census data by precinct. It reflected the population shifts shown by the municipal data.

All three Eastside precincts showed gains, the greatest gain in Precinct 11 at the Recreation Building at Carville with an increase of 774. The second largest increase was in Precinct 22 at the Plaquemine's Lion's Club on Bayou Jacob Road, with an increase of 546.

The two precincts in the Maringouin area had the largest decreases. Precincts 31 at the Council on Aging and 32 at the Maringouin, Library showed a combined decrease of 326.

The Legislature began a round of public meetings around the state this week in advance of a special session on reapportionment. State Rep. Karen St. Germain said her district's population is little changed. Her area, District 60, includes most of Iberville Parish, one precinct in fast-growing Ascension Parish, and parts of Assumption and West Baton Rouge.

House District 58, which includes eight of Iberville’s 44 precincts, a large portion of Ascension and parts of St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes, and the sprawling Senate District 17 that includes Iberville probably will be redrawn.

Iberville is split between two congressional districts, which likely will be altered. The state, growing at a slower clip than others, is losing a house district.