Access to internet, address lists will ease Census process

Because Prescott Valley’s budget includes revenue from a portion of its share of state income taxes based on its population, a reliable US Census count is important. The town is beginning to ramp up community awareness to ensure full participation in the 2020 Census.

Usually a town or city’s population is counted once every decade through the U.S. Census Bureau. Sometimes, a municipality might pay for a mid-decade count, which costs about $380,000, but could bring in a larger share of revenue if the population has significantly increased.

New legislation through the Arizona League of Cities and Towns now allows the state to update population annually based on U.S. Census projections, explained Joe Scott, planner with PV Community Development, in his memo for the Town Council study session April 5.

The town receives state shared tax revenue in proportion to its population. As the Prescott Valley’s population increases, so does the amount of revenue.

In 2010, the Census determined the town’s population at 38,822, a 52 percent increase from 2000. Yet, the vacancy rate in 2010 was about 12 percent, up from 5 percent indicated in the 2000 Census. The town saw huge swings in population with counts only once a decade, said Larry Tarkowski, town manager.

Town staff believe, based on single-family building permit activity projected through April 2020, the estimated 2016 population at 43,132 will increase to more than 44,000 residents.

This is important because populations also decide the allocation of seats for the House of Representatives; redistricting for congressional, state and school districts, as well as voting precincts. Population numbers also determine federal funding to local communities.

To this end, the town endeavors to get the most people counted as possible, Scott said. It will participate in the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) that allows municipalities and tribes to review and comment on the Census Bureau’s residential address list.

“They take the 2010 list and update it. We match the addresses to what we know and get to add to it,” Scott said. “They give us back the full list and we get to verify what they will be using to contact people.”

In 2010, Prescott Valley had the highest initial mail-in response in Yavapai County with a 74 percent rate. Yavapai County averaged 65 percent and the state was 67 percent.

Collecting information this year initially will involve responding through the internet. Most fieldworkers will use mobile devices to collect data.

The town plans to promote the importance of being counted through flyers in utility bills, television and radio campaigns, magnetic signs for town vehicles, flyers titled “10 Questions, 10 Minutes” to go home with 5,000 Humboldt Unified School District students, posters, and Question Assistance Centers at the library and CASA senior center.

In other action April 5, the council:

• Discussed setting a public hearing on Community Development Block Grant funds for pedestrian/street improvements to Civic Drive between Windsong Drive and Civic Circle.

• Looked at bids for processing, handling and posting water/sewer payments.