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SHEBOYGAN — The City of Sheboygan is at risk of losing its metropolitan status—and with it federal funding for programs including housing, transportation and business.

The federal government has proposed increasing the definition of a metropolitan from 50,000 to 100,000 people in its core city. The 50,000-person threshold has been in place for the past 70 years, and the change leaves 144 cities at risk of losing the metropolitan status. According to the 2010 Census, Sheboygan sits at 71,313 people.

Those cities with 50,000 to 100,000 core populations would be considered "micropolitan" statistical areas instead.

According to the proposal, which can be found here, the readjustment is "solely for statistical purposes," but these figures are often used to help determine federal funding.

Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen said he is concerned about what this change could potentially mean for the city. He said he has reached out to federal representatives for additional information and is waiting for a reply as of Tuesday.

"I am concerned that this could be the potential future threshold for Entitlement Community status, and change our status to Community Development Block Grant funding. Sheboygan currently receives approximately $920,000 through this program. There is also the possibility that this new designation, if adopted, could affect funding formulas for Transportation aids," Vandersteen said in an email to the Sun.

"A reduction of Statistics tracked could impact amount of information available to developers or outside investors," he added. "Sheboygan is still a small MSA, but having that designation allows them to easily compare data between markets. Also we would not be able to compare ourselves to larger metros to see how we are performing."

Other Wisconsin cities at risk include Fond du Lac (54,901), Oshkosh (74,495), Wausau-Weston (74,632) and Janesville (69,658).

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