With money tight all around, many more cities are expected to challenge the 2010 Census’ population estimates than 10 years ago, the U.S. Conference of Mayors is predicting - and dozens of cities are are already disputing the figures.
Cities have two years to contest U.S. Census figures, a process which begins this month. A decade ago, about 1,200 cities, towns and counties protested that their population counts were too low.
“There will be a dramatic increase in the number of city challenges, I guarantee it,” Mark Mallory, the Cincinnati mayor who chairs the U.S. mayors’ task force on the census, said in an interview with the Associated Press.
After the 1990 census, a whopping 6,600 challenges - representing 17% of all U.S. jurisdictions - complained that the census had miscounted their populations.
Each year almost $450 billion in federal aid is handed out to the states and localities by population. This census cycle is more challenging than 10 years ago due to local budget crunches and the prospect of less federal money for Medicaid and other government programs.
The bottom line for mayors is that underestimating their population cost them money when funding is already tight.
“Along with federal funds, there’s a psychological impact when a city loses population, because people and businesses want to be in a vibrant region where things are growing and happening,” Mallory said.
Federal money that is distributed based on population includes funds for things such as health care, transportation infrastructure and schools. About 60 percent of population-based federal money is devoted to Medicaid.
So far the U.S. Census Bureau has indicated openness to dealing with the many challenges they are soon to face.
“We encourage cities to challenge… [but] overall it’s an accurate census, and we stand by the census count,” said Sharon Boyer, chief of the Census Bureau’s appeals division.
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