HILL VIEW

A view of Tuttle Creek Boulevard Friday from the Bluemont Scenic Overlook.

Mayor Usha Reddi will have to wear a Jayhawk jersey to an upcoming city commission meeting after Manhattan finished behind Lawrence in a challenge to see which town could have a better Census response rate.

Reddi and Lawrence mayor Jennifer Ananda had agreed in April to a competition between the college towns to see which city could have the better U.S. Census response rate by May 15. The loser would have to wear the other university’s jersey at a city commission meeting.

Lawrence finished ahead of Manhattan on Friday, and data from Tuesday shows Lawrence’s response rate was 64.1%, ahead of the entire state at 64% and Manhattan at 60.3%.

Reddi said she’s still working out the details with city staffers on when she would wear the jersey, likely later this month or in early June. She said she does not own a KU jersey and would have to buy or borrow one for that meeting.

“I don’t know how much it helped, and maybe people would have done it anyway, but it certainly didn’t hurt,” Reddi said of the bet.

U.S. Census figures not only help identify the size of a community, but they also determine how much federal funding those communities might receive. Funding for local services like transportation, infrastructure, schools and social services are partially determined by the size of the community. Current federal aid for communities’ COVID-19 responses also will hinge on population numbers.

The Flint Hills Metropolitan Planning Organization, which coordinates transportation planning across the greater Manhattan area, was created in 2013 after the area in 2010 passed the 50,000 population threshold at which federal law requires metro areas to create a transportation planning organization.

Keeping the area’s population above 50,000 will be key in ensuring future federal funding, Reddi said.