The U.S. Census Bureau will channel its inner Count von Count from “Sesame Street” for its 2020 Census, which will help shape the future of Town of Paradise Valley and the state of Arizona in the coming years.
The U.S. Constitution mandates a decennial census to help determine the number of representatives in the House and federal allocation of funds such as grants and support. The goal of the census is to count the entire population of the country, regardless of citizenship status.
The 2020 Census is slated to officially begin on April 1, 2020 with any necessary followups will begin in May 2020. For this census, residents can respond through the internet, phone or email, marking the first time responding by internet is an available option.
At a local level, Town Manager Jill Keimach said the census is important to the town because it will help determine the percentage of funds Paradise Valley will receive for state-shared revenue and other federal funds.
“Because it is a percentage, if PV under-reports, we will receive less than our fair share of funds to pay for municipal services,” she said via email.
State-shared revenues, as set by the Arizona Legislature, include income tax or urban revenue sharing; transaction privilege tax; vehicle license tax; and highway User Revenue Fund.
Ms. Keimach also said the Census provides the town with “critical data” to shape its future. In 2022, the town will embark on its state-mandated General Plan update and Ms. Keimach said Census data will help determine what services the plan should prepare for moving forward.
Vice Mayor Scott Moore pointed to federal funds, grants and other support to states as a reason for an accurate count in not only the town but the state.
The federal government doles out about $700 billion in federal funding, which it distributes to states based on sex, age, population and other factors. Arizona received about $13.5 billion in 2015 with that number rising to $16.7 billion, according to usaspending.gov.
“Our community benefits from our proportionate share of these funds,” Mr. Moore said in an email. “They’re spent on public infrastructure such as roads, public works and other vital programs.”
Since many of the town’s funding sources are linked to its population in comparison with other cities in the state and county, Ms. Keimach said if the Census doesn’t yield an accurate count, then the town would not get the needed funds based on population.
Ms. Keimach pointed to the town being at a disadvantage already since population growth in Maricopa County is among the fastest in the country but Paradise Valley’s population remains stable.
An example of this occurred last year, she said, when the town received less state shared revenue despite a slight population growth. She said the less funds were because the town’s growth wasn’t as big as other cities.
“As directed by statute, the population figures used in distribution of state shared revenues for each fiscal year are based on the official U.S. Census Bureau population estimate for each city and town,” she said.
“Every 10 years, the estimates are verified with new data (not estimates) and if that data does not reflect reality, the town would be shorted the funds it needs to provide services to our residents and visitors.”
The town receives state shared revenue each year, which it uses to repair streets, sewers and storm drains, Ms. Keimach said.
She said the town receives about $1.8 million each year to complement the $3.4 million it receives from state income tax and sales tax. The income and sales tax go to fund town services such as police, fire, code enforcement, planning, engineering and public works.
While these benefits affect the town directly, Mr. Moore pointed to some indirect consequences of an accurate Census.
He said the Census numbers could assist businesses in finding locations, thus creating jobs. Developers could also use Census data to build new homes or revitalize old neighborhoods.
Mr. Moore also said local governments can use the Census for public safety and emergency preparedness while residents can use the data to back community initiatives involving legislation, quality of life and consumer advocacy.
Education can also receive a boost from Census numbers since numbers of children can lead to additional federal funds for education programs.
With population continuing to skyrocket in Maricopa County, Ms. Keimach and Mr. Moore believes an increase in legislative districts may be on the horizon, giving Arizona more representatives in the House.
The U.S. Census Bureau --- a nonpartisan government agency --- administers the nationwide count that will seek general data from all U.S. households.
Officials will conduct the Census in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories. Census officials will seek to learn:
Ms. Keimach said states and municipalities do not receive specifics on data the Census Bureau collects, only aggregated data. She emphasized Census Bureau staff members cannot share personal information with other agencies, including U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. She said the fine for such is $250,000 and could result in up to five years in prison.
Mr. Moore echoed Ms. Keimach’s words, assuring the data will be used to benefit the town and its residents.
“In saying so I encourage everyone in the Town of Paradise Valley resident participate in the upcoming Census,” he said.