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Part 1: Municipal Boundary Review

Data for cities and towns in the 2020 Census are intended to reflect the legal boundaries in effect on January 1, 2020.

In a few cases, the boundary files of incorporated areas released with the P.L. 94-171 Redistricting data may not reflect boundaries that had been adopted by that date. If housing units or group quarters are located within the affected area then a community can purse a census challenge via the Count Questions Resolution Program.

Overview of Part 1 Review

This step involves comparing the boundaries of incorporated places published by the U.S. Census Bureau with city and town boundaries from the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Division of Property Assessments. Per state statutes, Comptroller staff regularly collect boundary information from municipalities across Tennessee. They provided a file representing city limits on January 1, 2020, for this review step.

NOTE: The limits of incorporated areas from the Comptroller are intended to reflect boundaries on January 1, 2020. Communities should independently verify that the boundaries shown are reflective of that time period using referendum and local ordinances.

In instances where the information shows that the city or town boundary covers an area larger than is shown by the Census Bureau AND the area in question contains living quarters that were completed and available for occupancy on April 1, 2020.

Examples of Eligible and Ineligible Boundary Errors

Aerial photograph showing portion of Kenton, TN city limits

Figure 1: CQR Eligible Area Containing Housing Units. This area on the west side of Kenton, Tennessee, shows a potential discrepancy between city limits from the Comptroller (blue) and Census Bureau (pink). Because the area contains housing units, it may be eligible for review under the bureau’s CQR program.

Aerial photograph showing portion of Monterey, TN city limits

Figure 2:  Ineligible CQR Area Containing No Housing Units. This area east of Monterey, Tennessee, is within the town limits (blue) according to local data, but the Census Bureau boundary (pink) shows it is not. Although a discrepancy exists, the area is not eligible for the CQR program because it does not contain any living quarters

Part 1 Boundary Review Procedures

View map full screen

  1. Type the name of the community of interest into the search box located in the top right corner of the application.
  2. Select the city/town name from the dropdown. The map will zoom to selected community.
  3. Two layers are shown on the map. A blue-dashed and filled layer show areas the Comptroller’s records and pink layer showing Census Bureau boundaries. The boundaries will be coincident and appear to overlap for many communities. For others, there will be significant differences.
  4. To zoom in more closely, use the +/- buttons at the top right of the map. Rolling the mouse wheel or pinching the map on a touch screen will zoom. Pan the map by clicking and dragging in the desired direction.
  5. Zoom and pan the map as needed to explore the exterior boundary of the corporate limit. Look for areas where the Comptroller’s blue boundaries are not covered by the Census Bureau’s pink boundaries. In other words, locations where the Comptroller’s layer extends beyond the Census Bureau boundary.
  6. If a discrepancy is located, determine if any living quarters fall within the affected area by visually examining the aerial photograph for any type of residential use including homes, apartments and trailers.
  7. If a visual inspection reveals that housing units exist within the disputed area, the next is to roughly estimate the number of people living within it block reviewing the count of housing and population in the affected area.
  8. Areas outlined in yellow on the map are census blocks. This is the smallest area for which population and housing unit totals are reported in decennial census. Click on block within the disputed area to verify that housing units exist and view the reported population of the block. The population of blocks entirely within the disputed area and rough proportions of the population of blocks that are split by the corporate limit can be used to estimate the number of people that should have been excluded from the community’s 2020 total population count.
  9. If sufficient population is present in the affected area, then the preparation of CQR case may be warranted depending on the estimated population within the affected area.

Submitting a CQR Boundary Case

The Census Bureau’s CQR Participant Guide and Frequently Asked Questions documents provide detailed instructions about how to prepare and submit a case. Documentation requirements for a boundary case generally include:

  • A map (digital or hard copy) indicating the portion of the boundary that the Census Bureau potentially depicted incorrectly, as well as depicting the corrected boundary as of January 1, 2020.
  • A list (digital or hard copy) of residential addresses in the 2020 census tabulation blocks affected by the incorrect boundary.

Other supporting documentation confirming that the boundary for the affected area was in place on January 1, 2020.